A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how 3D printing in space would make sense, and today NASA published a Request For Information (RFI) on in-space additive manufacturing (ISAM) subsystems. Even though, it is only a RFI it is great news that NASA is showing real interest in 3D printing technology.
The purpose of the RFI is described as:
[…] to obtain information to support the formulation of future technology development projects to develop in-space manufacturing capabilities that could exist as stand-alone, robotic tended systems, smaller systems that can be integrated with human tended vehicles, and surface manufacturing systems that can utilize in-situ resources. Advanced system concepts that include integration/fabrication of electrical devices are also sought. NASA is soliciting industry’s comments and areas for the government to consider relative to the ISAM project concept.
In the RFI, they talk about in-space manufacturing of parts and replacement parts. They specifically mention the idea to recycle (“re-purpose in NASA speak”) existing materials like cargo and food packaging.
I think this is a wonderful step in the right direction. It means that 3D printing is on the radar of NASA. As I said in my earlier post, I can only imagine what will happen in this industry, when big time research players like DARPA and NASA will start pouring money into this industry.
For more information see the NASA Acquisition Internet Service (NAIS).