Autodesk partner, friends, and Fusion 360 users Made in Space sent the first 3D printer designed for space 2011 is again sending a new updated 3D printer up to the International Space Station this Tuesday, March 22nd at 11:05 pm EST. Keeping with the long tradition of crazy NASA acronyms the 3D printer is named the “AMF” for Additive Manufacturing Facility.
Made in Space is the cutting edge on additive manufacturing in space and it opens up many possibilities to provide an object like a tool to astronauts in orbit when sending something form earth can be expensive and take a lot of time. With additive manufacturing of 3D printing the object can be designed on earth then simply transferred digitally to the International Space Station and 3D printed. Autodesk will be using the AMF to 3D print an astronaut fitness device.
Made in Space’s Additive Manufacturing Facility AMF - Image courtesy of Made in Space
”AMF will print with a wide range of polymers, is designed to last the entire lifetime of the space station, and will be commercially available for any customers on Earth who wish to get select hardware to space faster, safer, and more affordably than traditional launch methods.”
Except from NASA AMF mission page:
“The Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) enables the production of components on the International Space Station (ISS) for both NASA and commercial objectives. Parts, entire experiments, and tools can be created on demand utilizing the AMF that is installed into an Express Rack locker location. The AMF is capable of producing parts out of a wide variety of thermopolymers including engineered plastics.
The Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) is a permanent manufacturing facility on the ISS, providing hardware manufacturing services. AMF is twice the size of it’s predecessor 3D printer. The ability to manufacture on the ISS enables on-demand repair and production capability, as well as essential research for manufacturing on long-term missions. AMF allows for immediate repair of essential components, upgrades of existing hardware, installation of new hardware that is manufactured, and the manufacturing capability to support commercial interests on the ISS.
Additive manufacturing is the process of building a part layer-by-layer, with an efficient use of the material. The process leads to a reduction in cost, mass, labor and production time. The ISS crew would be able to utilize the AMF to perform station maintenance, build tools, and repair sections of the station in case of an emergency. The AMF uses an extrusion-based "3D printing" method, which Made in Space has already tested in zero-gravity with successful results. The AMF is capable of producing components from a variety of space-rated composites. This versatility allows for a variety of components and devices to be manufactured, enabling the mentioned uses to be applicable as well as unforeseen uses to be developed.
Using replaceable subassemblies, the AMF is designed so that it could easily be upgraded to add new functionality and manufacturing methods in the future. The AMF is designed to last the entire lifetime of the ISS. The AMF printer is designed to work with a wide range of various extrudable materials including flexible polymers and aerospace grade composites. Designed to operate in an EXPRESS Rack middeck locker, once installed the printer will be easily accessible by crew at all times.”