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ESA to 3D-print in microgravity

May 18, 2018

The European Space Agency is testing a new microgravity 3D printer with the aim of using it on the International Space Station.

According to all3dp.com, the machine, developed by Portuguese company BEEVERYCREATIVE alongside an international group of partners, has been under construction for two years.

The project, entitled MELT (Manufacturing of Experimental Layer Technology) seeks to design, develop and then test a functioning 3D printer capable of operating under the ISS’ microgravity conditions. If successful, it will be used to print engineering polymers with particular high-end mechanical and thermal properties.

One added criteria was that it must be a simple enough machine that the astronauts aboard the ISS are capable of operating and maintaining it.

BEEVERYCREATIVE now plans to leverage what knowledge it has assimilated from the MELT project to develop a new 3D printer, oriented to industries for product development needs and ultra-fast prototyping.

The machine was developed by the Portuguese 3D printer manufacturer, in collaboration with SONACA Space and OHB-System of Germany, and Portuguese compatriots Active Space Technologies. It has now been delivered to the ESA for the testing stage, after which – if successful – it will take to the stars.

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