3D Printer Headed to Space Station

It’s not quite the replicator of Star Trek fame—but it’s seemingly a step in that direction.

The first 3D printer is soon to fly into Earth orbit, finding a home aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The size of a small microwave, the unit is called Portal. The hardware serves as a ted bed for evaluating how well 3D printing and the microgravity of space combine. Its use in space signals an new era of off-world manufacturing.

The foundation for 3D printing is also known as “additive manufacturing,” which has been evolving for more than three decades. The technology has picked up speed more recently due to new materials and new applications.

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