Innovative Metal 3D Printer Voyages to International Space Station


French manufacturer AddUp, together with Airbus, has delivered the inaugural metal 3D printer for use in space to the European Space Agency (ESA). This printer was dispatched on NASA’s Mission NG-20, intended for the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Specifically designed to work in microgravity, the printer will be instrumental in the Huginn mission of ESA astronaut and Falcon 9 pilot, Andreas Mogensen, which will involve 3D printing in space on the Columbus European Science Module.

Worked on by AddUp and Airbus since 2016, alongside Cranfield University and aerospace contractor Highftech Engineering, the printer is a wire directed energy deposition (DED) system. It features a cartridge for wire storage, while controlling heat and particle emission and accommodating for motion. Expected to start operations as soon as next month, this printer signifies a major progression in metal 3D printing for space applications.

Past pursuits in metal 3D printing for space have centered on methods like electron beam melting for the repair of spare parts. This new printer epitomizes a necessary technological leap, especially as space missions become lengthier, more expensive, and more pivotal. The capacity to not just replace damaged parts but also craft impromptu components for unexpected emergencies or upgrades is a groundbreaking development. In the past, numerous space mishaps have been evaded due to crew resourcefulness and impromptu fixes. The implementation of 3D printing in space paves the way for more tailored and efficacious solutions.

3D printing will be an indispensable tool if humans aspire to colonize other planets, perform mining in space, generate energy in orbit, and maintain thousands of satellites. Its contribution to cutting down cargo needed for missions, reusing potential waste, recycling metals on board, and manufacturing vital items as needed is immeasurable. This technology greatly boosts mission efficacy by creating parts on the spot and in real time, a much faster option than deploying new supply missions, which could be critical to saving lives and prolonging the duration of missions.

The prospect of future missions to Mars necessitate the use of 3D printed solutions to manage unforeseeable disasters. Despite advances in space exploration, equipment failures and physical and psychological stressors present substantial challenges. It is important to remember that 15 astronauts have died out of the 676 who have travelled into space, many of whom have embarked on multiple, lengthy missions.

“The Metal 3D printer was developed leveraging the multidisciplinary expertise of AddUp’s engineers and researchers. Our team possesses expertise in various additive manufacturing processes, machine design, optimization of programming and operations, and have contributed to the development of this pioneering space metal 3D printer which will soon be deployed in orbit. The metal 3D printer has been designed and optimized with the International Space Station’s conditions and environment in mind. AddUp was selected for this project due to our longstanding partnership that is steeped in exploration and innovation,” remarked AddUp Technical Director Sébastien Devroe.

“We had faith that the combination of AddUp’s team knowledge and experience, along with Airbus’s technological expertise, would result in a high-quality, efficient metal 3D printer to aid space exploration,” stated Elodie Viau, Head of Engineering at Airbus Space Systems.

The forthcoming experiments, which entail comparing 3D-printed components manufactured in space with those produced on Earth, bear substantial potential for the trajectory of this technology. An exciting prospect is the possible enhancement of layer adherence in 3D printed objects due to microgravity – a breakthrough that could signify a major progression in the field. This represents a pivotal advancement for our technology.

Apart from metal additive manufacturing (AM), it’s also imperative to progress polymer 3D printing from recycled resources and to advance the operation of bioprinting. The role of AM as a crucial apparatus in space exploration corroborates its reliability in critical applications, while also positioning the industry to capitalize on the growing space market.

On top of that, this endeavor provides a distinct privilege for DED and wire laser deposition techniques. Often seen as less complex compared to powder bed fusion, these technologies are in a position to receive heightened regard, research funding, and focus. DED and other wire-based procedures are acclaimed for their security and adaptability in utilizing recycled materials of differing quality and traits. Not to mention, the flexibility of a laser DED system to function as a cutting and marking instrument brings an extra edge. Additionally, DED’s proficiency in part rejuvenation by adding new layers to worn-out parts is indeed advantageous.

The heighted scrutiny and testing within the space realm might draw new clients from space, aerospace, and defense sectors, prompting them to perceive DED technology from a fresh perspective. Summing up, this indeed is an exceptionally good day for 3D printing.

I’m sorry but there seems to be a misunderstanding. The supplied content is CSS style and a noscript message, not an HTML narrative. In turn, according to your instructions, styles and noscript elements should be removed, which leaves us with no content. Could you please provide an HTML narrative to be rewritten?

Original source


“Why did the 3D printer go to therapy? Because it had too many layers of unresolved issues!”

Like it? Share with your friends!


Meet the mastermind behind GCode-Guru, a 3D printing wizard whose filament collection rivals their sock drawer. Here to demystify 3D tech with a mix of expert advice, epic fails, and espresso-fueled rants. If you've ever wondered how to print your way out of a paper bag (or into a new coffee cup), you're in the right place. Dive into the world of 3D printing with us—where the only thing more abundant than our prints is our sarcasm.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Choose A Format
Personality quiz
Series of questions that intends to reveal something about the personality
Trivia quiz
Series of questions with right and wrong answers that intends to check knowledge
Voting to make decisions or determine opinions
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
The Classic Internet Listicles
The Classic Internet Countdowns
Open List
Submit your own item and vote up for the best submission
Ranked List
Upvote or downvote to decide the best list item
Upload your own images to make custom memes
Youtube and Vimeo Embeds
Soundcloud or Mixcloud Embeds
Photo or GIF
GIF format