TAMPA (CBS Tampa) – NASA is expanding its efforts to use 3d printing to explore space. The agency already uses the technique to make rocket engine parts, a pizza maker, and physical photos from the Hubble Space Telescope.
One NASA engineer is attempting to become the first person to build an entire space camera using only 3d printed parts, reports Space.com.
“As far as I know, we are the first to attempt to build an entire instrument with 3d printing,” said Jason Budinoff, an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
He is building a 2 inch camera for a miniature satellite called a cubesat.
In order to prove its space worthiness, the camera will have to pass vibration and thermal-vacuum tests that will simulate the experience of being blasted into space.
Budinoff’s 3d printing process starts when a laser melts a pile of metal powder. The computer then fuses the melted metal into a single layer of the overall design.
Then the layers are assembled, like slices of bread, to create the needed part.
If successful, Budinoff says it may be possible to build entire spacecraft using 3d printing techniques.
“I basically want to show that additive-machined instruments can fly,”Budinoff said in the same statement. “We will have mitigated the risk, and when future program managers ask, ‘Can we use this technology?’ we can say, ‘Yes, we already have qualified it.'”
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