AMF- 3D printing tools in space!

  • Nimish Sany
  • 4 May , 2016

Got some DIY work aboard the International Space Station? Well, no worries. Here’s a 3D printer to give Labs and Made in Space has achieved an incredible feat by putting in place its first fully functional commercially available 3D printer in the International Space Station (ISS). A commercial resupply mission conducted by Orbital ATK Inc to the space lab acted a cargo service for the AMF.

The installation of AMF is aimed at providing quality tools in space for the astronauts engaged in maintenance of the ISS. Lowe’s and Made in Space say this is the beginning of a you the tools for just that. ‘Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF)’, the brainchild of Lowe’s Innovation beautiful friendship!

Image: Lowe’s Innovation Labs

Here are some interesting facts about the AMF:

It is the first commercial 3Dprinter in space!

While the first 3D printer in space, the Zero –Gravity printer or the Zero-G printer was installed in the ISS by Made in Space in 2014 for their microgravity experiments; AMF is the first or the only commercially available one. The objective of the Zero-G printer was to demonstrate how a 3D printer could work in zero gravity. The findings from Zero-G printer were put to use in the AMF.

Everybody’s gotta pay to use it, including NASA!

That’s right, and it doesn’t come cheap either.  One print could cost the NASA about six to thirty grands! In other words, 30 grands for a tool! Yep, that would be pretty steep on Earth; however that’s not the case aboard ISS. Comparing the cost against a launching cost of $10,000 per kilogram of payload ought to put some sense it.

However, Made in Space offers discounts for educational projects and claims it has already received more than 15 orders ranging from spacecraft parts to medical equipments.

You can upload your designs onto the printer!

AMF can be accessed from Earth and this operational feature lets the Earth people, that would be us, to upload our designs onto the 3D printer. This comes in handy for the astronauts as it lets the designers at Lowe’s upload their standard designs.

Image: Lowe’s Innovation Labs

3D prints original and genuine tools from Lowe’s!

Why would NASA want to pay 30 grand for a tool or a spare part? Necessity, gentlemen. The spare parts of the ISS are invaluable stuff to astronauts. Also, in a cost point-of-view, supplying actual Lowe’s tools from Earth to ISS doesn’t make sense when you could make genuine tools from your miniature Lowe’s outlet aboard the ISS!

It is also an experiment!

AMF aims to find out what all one would need a 3D printer for in space. It seems a part of their learning process to find out the potential of a 3D printer in space. Can it 3D print an asteroid and launch it against an incoming one? We’ll see!


Nimish Sany: I bleed my thoughts on paper. And if I cant find a paper, blogs serve the purpose just fine.

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