The Additive Manufacturing Facility, a 3D printing device, installed in late April, at the ISS recently printed its first device, a wrench. The wrench contains a fastening clip that helps in keeping it grounded in zero g. The California-based company Made in Space has manufactured the AMF and is also credited with sending the only other 3D printer to space.
The 1st 3D printer was sent to the orbiting lab in September 2014 as a part of the NASA project, to judge the functioning of 3D printing in space. NASA has embraced the 3D print technology with open arms and sees a bright future in this sector. It aims at cutting costs and making aerospace components and space voyages cheaper and spacecraft more self-sustained.
The AMF was verified in the trail runs and then approved for use. It can be deployed for tasks like creating components for ISS, satellite units testing new designs or prototyping space designs for medical appliances.
The wrench has the name ‘Kobalt’ engraved on it, which is the name of the tool making company, and is the outcome of the partnership between Made in space and Lowe’s, a home-improvement store.
The AMF is well equipped to manufacture customised and specific tools and hardware on demand. This was stated by Jenny Popis, manager of corporate PR, at Lowe’s. The printed bed has the denominations 10cm*14cm*10 cm. This printer caters to the needs of printers and astronauts alike.