3D printing will impact space development in many ways
3D printing, also known as “additive printing”, will benefit space activities in manifold ways as described in this ESA article : Ten ways 3D printing could change space – ESA.
For example, it can make structures that can’t be made with conventional machining techniques:
A lightweight titanium lattice ball manufactured using the Additive Manufacturing
or 3D printing process. This design is a good example of AM capabilities: these
hollow balls possessing a complex external geometry could not have been
manufactured in a single part using a conventional manufacturing process.
But they are incredibly light while also stiff, opening up possibilities for future
At the other end of the scale, entire large structures on the Moon and elsewhere could be built with the 3D printing technique:
Multi-dome lunar base being constructed, based on the 3D printing concept.
Once assembled, the inflated domes are covered with a layer of 3D-printed
lunar regolith by robots to help protect the occupants against space
radiation and micrometeoroids
Update: The ESA article mentions making models with 3D printing. Here is a video showing an animation using 50 models made with 3D printing:
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