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December 22, 2014

Astronauts 3D print wrench in space

The 3D printed wrench was used to replace a part for the printer.

By CBR Staff Writer

Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) have created the first 3D printed object in space, with the help of instructions sent from earth.

ISS commander Barry Wilmore required a wrench, which was printed using a 3D printer made by Made In Space.

The wrench was used for replacing a part for the printer.

When astronauts requested specific items in the past they had to wait months to be sent one, delivered by one of the regular supply flights.

The BBC reported Made In Space founder Mike Chen as saying: "We had overheard ISS Commander Barry Wilmore (who goes by "Butch") mention over the radio that he needed one, so we designed one in CAD and sent it up to him faster than a rocket ever could have."

Chan added: "It also marks the end of our first experiment — a sequence of 21 prints that together make up the first tools and objects ever manufactured off the surface of the Earth."

According to reports, Made In Space is planning to replace the current printer in ISS with a larger version next year.

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The company will analyse the products made by the current printer with identical products made on earth which will help the company to assess the printer’s ability to withstand trials of zero gravity and takeoff.

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