Students from the International Space Station (ISS) Lab at Valley Christian High School in San Jose received support with a microgravity experiment from German additive manufacturing service provider MetShape and Michigan-based 3D printing service provider Qualified3D.
The group needed microgravity capillary action trials and millimetre-scale lattices. So they reached out to Qualified3D to get components made with micro-stereolithography.
Some of our students discovered that the small lattice design was printable using the LMM technology and actively reached out to them, according to Emeka Okekeocha, ISS Program Manager at Valley Christian School.
How did the students solve the microgravity experiment?
The San Jose-based team used lattices with struts as thin as 0.5mm in diameter, and it appeared that micro-SLA was the only method that could produce parts precisely enough.
Despite being dimensionally accurate,
photopolymer resin components lacked vibration resistance,
heat resistance, as well as low-temperature stability,
making them impractical for space flight requirements.
For the ISS experiment, metal offered a better set of properties.
However, using conventional metal powder-bed fusion and binder-jetting 3D printing technologies,
the lattice design was not printable.
The team ultimately decided to use MetShape’s Lithography-based Metal Manufacturing (LMM),
a cutting-edge 3D printing technique that makes use of the photopolymerization principle.
Using a DLP projector, the metal powder is carefully polymerized.
The technology can make components with smooth surfaces (2-5 m surface roughness before polishing) and extremely thin walls (125 m) in a variety of metals,
including titanium and stainless steel.
After conducting a technical review,
Okekeocha added, “We accepted the proposed change from acrylic resin to stainless steel.”
Within a few weeks,
the ISS Research Lab students got their components, and they absolutely can not wait to use them in their microgravity experiment.
Mid-February 2023 is the anticipated delivery date for the experiment package, and data return is anticipated to begin in March 2023.
How 3d printing plays a vital role in microgravity experiments
A new device that AddUp, a French manufacturer of industrial 3D printers,
collaborated on will be sent into orbit for testing on the International Space Station (ISS),
according to a previous announcement.
As part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) “Metal3D” project, AddUp constructed a machine’s internal mechanisms and structure specifically made to 3D print metal components in space.
The prototype is said to process wire feedstock attached to its frame,
as opposed to traditional powder bed-based systems, preventing it from floating away and allowing the device to function in microgravity.
, the expert in microgravity manufacturing, Made In Space, and the Swedish manufacturer of 3D bioprinters, CELLINK, have announced a strategic alliance.
Determining 3D bioprinting development opportunities for the ISS and future off-world platforms was the goal of the collaboration.
As stated by the company, such initiatives are anticipated to have an actual impact on cancer research and drug testing on Earth.
According to Erik Gatenholm, co-founder and CEO of CELLINK,
“CELLINK supports space programs in the United States with our deep commitment to cutting-edge innovation,
an extensive portfolio of technologies, and a world-class team of scientists and engineers.”