Most of the research and development being done around additive manufacturing (otherwise known as 3d printing) occurs at universities, hospitals, companies and within militaries here on Earth. But not all of it.
Made in Space is a company that continues to work on the production of parts while orbiting the earth, with plenty of successes, and today announced a partnership with a company called Axiom, which has the bold vision of becoming the world’s first commercial space exploration company.
“Axiom and Made In Space are adding to the space ecosystem, serving a growing market and enabling innovative approaches from processes learned on the International Space Station. This partnership allows us to continue to evolve and develop new products and allow our customers to invest in space manufacturing knowing that there will be an ongoing human presence on orbit,” said Andrew Rush, CEO of Made In Space. “They are the ideal partner for manufacturing new technologies in space and leveraging our new capabilities.”
As the former NASA astronauts and managers that make up the leadership team at Axiom develop a system capable of sovereign astronaut missions, space tourist missions, on-orbit research, on-orbit manufacturing, space exploration systems testing academic research and outreach programs, they’ll need the capability to produce spare parts in-space, and also understand how materials that have been tested well on earth, react to a different environment in space.
“Made In Space carries a rich legacy in manufacturing. This partnership marks an important next step in humanity’s reach into space,” Michael Suffredini, CEO of Axiom Space said. “In-space manufacturing provides a unique class of products beneficial to the communications, materials and biomedical industries on Earth. Made In Space is an exemplary company to collaborate with to meet the demand for in-space manufacturing, and we are thrilled to build a partnership with the individuals who have proven their abilities in zero-g flights and on ISS.”
It’s expensive to send parts and supplies into space, and it can also take a while, so if these items can be 3d printed in-space— as the International Space Station plans to do with medical tools — it saves astronauts, governments, companies, space explorers and just about anybody else reliant on those tools a lot of time and money. And the same premise applies here on earth.
Why should a company house a bunch of spare parts and ship them hundreds or thousands of miles when it’s becoming easier, quicker and cheaper in some cases to simply 3d print them on-site.