Engineers at NASA are proving that 3D-printing is out of this world! Keep reading this blog to find out why!

Talking a walk through our creative design facility, Inventionland, or even quickly glancing at the Inventionland blog will show our deeply-rooted interest in 3D printing. This innovative technology is taking the world places it’s never been; in fact, thanks to NASA researchers, 3D printing might just be capable of taking us all out of this world, quite literally!

According to a recent article posted in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), engineers are experimenting with a 3D printer’s capability of making bricks out of Martian sand. Yes, the sand found on the planet Mars may be capable of creating permanent shelters for astronauts!

But, that’s not all engineers are cooking up to sustain life on Mars. WSJ contributor Robert Lee Hotz writes that if us Earthlings ever make it to Mars, pizza may be our first food of choice on the red planet.

“And if astronauts ever do attempt to reach Mars, they may survive the journey by eating pizza made with a 3-D-printed food system for long duration space missions, now under development in Texas,” says Hotz.

If you think the technology behind 3D printing seems out of this world already, the WSJ article does a great job of explaining just how it all works.

“Industrial engineers and designers on Earth have been printing in three dimensions for a decade or more, using modified computer inkjet printers. Instead of colored inks, these printers extrude plastic, alloys or ceramic composites, mixed with a hardening agent, to build up complex shapes one paper-thin layer at a time. Aerospace engineers are adapting printers to make rocket engine parts and other industrial components,” says Hotz.

Still, to many of us, this kind of 3D-printing technology on Earth seems nearly unbelievable. In actuality, thanks to microgravity printers, NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore was able to print a ratchet wrench while in orbit!

“An engineer at Made In Space designed the wrench on Earth, converted the blueprint into computer code, and then emailed it to U.S. Navy Capt. Wilmore in orbit. There, the astronaut printed the tool on the company’s experimental 3-D microgravity printer in three hours, building it up in layers each about seven millimeters thick from an ink composed of a heated commercial plastic,” says Hotz.

There is still much testing to be done of the usability of space-printed tools, but there is no saying just where all of this technology could take us. Watch the below video to learn more about how 3D-printing technology is helping the world advance by leaps and bounds… and, light-years!

Read even more about 3D printing’s out-of-this-world capabilities in the The Wall Street Journal article, “How 3-D Printing Is Going Out of This World” here.

Copyright Inventionland, 2015