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Made In Space

Founded in 2010 with the goal of using 3D printing to aid human space exploration, Made In Space, Inc. develops additive manufacturing technology for use in microgravity. By constructing hardware that can build what is needed in space, as opposed to launching it from Earth, the company plans to accelerate and broaden space development while also providing unprecedented access for people on Earth to use in-space manufacturing capabilities.

Enabling objects to be created off Earth, additive manufacturing technology has the potential to help humanity explore far beyond its home planet and even establish outposts on distant worlds. 3D printers allow space crews to be less reliant on supply missions from Earth and lead to sustainable, self-reliant exploration missions where resupply is difficult or impossible.

On November 24, 2014, a Made In Space 3D printer aboard the International Space Station produced its first part, manufacturing a piece of itself called an extruder plate. Astronauts on the space station have long been reliant on launches from Earth to bring them spare parts and replacements for things that break. This is not an ideal situation; rocket launches are expensive, and they generate intense vibrations that can shake apart delicate cargo. So having a 3D printer — which builds objects layer by layer out of plastic, metal or other feedstock materials — on the space station could make crewmembers' lives easier and result in significant savings. A NASA study found that about 30 percent of parts aboard the orbiting lab could be manufactured with a 3D printer.

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