NASA funds attempt at 3D food printer for pizza

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NASA throws some money at an engineer who is developing a 3D food printer. First challenge? Making a pizza.

Star Trek food replicators will always be the holy grail of space-snack technology, but we could be edging a step closer to the dream thanks to the work of mechanical engineerAnjan Contractorwith Systems and Materials Research in Austin, Texas.

Systems and Materials Research recently received a $125,000 grant from NASA to make a pizza. OK, its a little more complicated than that. Contractor already created a proof-of-concept printer that can print chocolate onto a cookie. His next goal is to print out dough and cook it while printing out sauce and toppings.

Contractor isnt just planning to use cartridges full of red sauce, but rather the building blocks of food products. Cartridges full of powders and oils could be combined to make different foods. These cartridges would have extremely long shelf lives, making them appropriate for feeding astronauts during long-distance space travel.

The way we are working on it is, all the carbs, proteins and macro and micro nutrients are in powder form. We take moisture out, and in that form it will last maybe 30 years,Contractor told news site Quartzin an article posted Tuesday.

This doesnt sound like a sublime foodie experience, but it could be a practical way to keep people fed all the way to Mars. It could also offer a lot more variety than the usual freeze-dried fare. Five months into your trip to Mars, I bet a hot 3D-printed pizza with a mystery protein layer would taste pretty dang good.

Contractor is starting work on building the prototype pizza printer. In case youre hungry right now, you can check out his chocolate printer below.

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NASA Reveals New 4D Fabric For Shielding Space Shuttles

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NASA Reveals New 4D Fabric For Shielding Space Shuttles

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NASA has a long history of leveraging the advantages of 3D printing for its operations. They have already made use of EBAM and SLA. This time around, they have developed a new 4D fabric that helps shield space shuttles from meteorites.This new fabric also helps insulate the space vessels from extreme heat.

The material was made by systems engineer Raul Polit Casillas. The fabric is a combination of undisclosed metal substances. One of the ways in which it deters excess heat is that it has 2 sides: one which reflects heat and one that absorbs it. Both these sides work in tandem to produce a thermal control for passive heat management.

Another very promising quality of the fabric is that, as the lead scientists have pointed out, it is programmable. Programmable materials are a product of 4D printing. This allows researchers to install various functions into the fabric in response to factors such as, for example heat or sound. In reaction to these stimuli it can react in kind. This is particularly useful in spaceflight where the environment is so extreme and in need for versatile machineries and materials.

The 4D fabric material is ideal for space flight due to various other properties as well. It is also flexible and foldable, making it ideal for use within the sheath of spacecrafts. In fact, its thin and flexible structure also lends it to possible use in space suits themselves. NASA is planning to program it for future applications as well. They have, as of yet, not revealed what the fabric is composed of.

Space travel projects, and particularly NASA, have a storied history together. Many space exploration programs have made great use of 3D printing. As mentioned earlier, NASA frequently use EBAM (electron beam additive manufacturing) to develop space tech.

NASA (and even air travel companies) find the ease of use that 3D printing allows to be a very handy. It has also allowed them to experiment with many different materials. NASA has supported 3D printing in other ways as well. One of which is encouraging the creation ofproducts in space through competitions likethe 3D printed habitat challenge.

If youre interested in 3D printings potential role in space travel, here are other stories:

Scientists Develop Means for 3D Printing Extraterrestrial Materials

NASA: Eating a 3D Printed Pizza in Space

Rawal Ahmed is a freelance journalist and politics correspondent with an avid interest in futurism, science and technology.

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NASA Second Phase of 3D-Printing Competition

NASA Second Phase of 3D-Printing Competition

Tuesday, August 29, 2017 ::Staff infoZine

NASA awarded prizes in its competition to build a 3-D printed habitat for deep space exploration.

Washington DC – infoZine – The agency has awarded first place and a prize of $250,000 to Team Foster + Partners Branch Technology of Chattanooga, Tennessee, for successfully completing Phase 2: Level 3 of NASAs 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, a NASAs Centennial Challenges prize competition. Pennsylvania State University of University Park received second place, and a reward of $150,000.

Challenge activities were held Aug. 23-26 at Caterpillars Edwards Demonstration and Learning Center in Edwards, Illinois. Teams were presented a check at the awards ceremony on Aug. 26 by Jim Reuter, deputy associate administrator for NASAs Space Technology Mission Directorate.

The multi-phase, $2.5 million 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is designed to advance construction technology needed to create sustainable housing solutions for Earth and beyond.

The Foster + Partners Branch Technology team from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Photo courtesy of NASA/Joel Kowsky

The advancement and innovation in additive construction that weve seen from these teams is inspiring, said Reuter. Meeting the technology goals of this challenge proves that competition can push boundaries, and their work puts us that much closer to preparing the way for deep space exploration.

Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, is NASAs 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge partner. Bradley University also partnered with sponsors Caterpillar, Bechtel and Brick & Mortar Ventures to run the competition.

Being a part of this competition has been an extraordinary opportunity for Bradley University, said Bradley University President, Gary Roberts. Our students, faculty, staff and the Peoria community had a chance to see history in the making. We are a part of transforming technology and reshaping the way we think about construction. This was inspiring, and I am certain it changed the lives of many who experienced it.

Teams were required to develop the fundamental 3-D printing technology necessary to produce a structurally sound habitat, including the printer itself and construction materials. Competitors then had to print beams, cylinders and domes that were analyzed and compressed to failure to determine scores and prize awards. The competition activities were open to the public, and many industry leaders and local school groups attended the event. A gallery of photos from the challenge events can be found on the NASA Headquarters Flickr site.

NASAs Centennial Challenges Program is part of the agencys Space Technology Mission Directorate, and is managed at NASAs Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

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NASA releases 3D-printable models to the public

The Mars Odyssey spacecraft is one of the 3D-printable models made available by NASA

If you have access to a 3D printer, then you can build your own space fleet courtesy of NASA provided you dont mind spacecraft that are plastic and four inches long. As part of its continuing program of education and outreach, the space agency has released 22 printable models of NASA and European space probes, asteroids, and planetary landscapes for the hobbyist and space enthusiast.

The 3D models are available from theNASA websitefor free and are printable on any desktop 3D printer using plastic filaments. Its the latest in a long tradition of NASA science, technology artwork made available to the public going back to its founding in 1958.

This particular program uses adaptations of 3D models that were developed for other purposes for NASA, such as the study of the structure of theEta Carinaenebula. NASA often produces such models for educational videos, project proposals, or simply because such models are often necessary due to many astronomical objects and NASA machines being hard to visualize.

The models on offer were made by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Ames Research Center, Johnson Space Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, Ball Aerospace, and Caltech. They includes 3D representations of unmanned spacecraft, asteroids, and planetary surfaces. Many of the models are adaptations from other purposes, so the space agency says that a bit of trial and error may be needed to configure them so theyll print properly. The files are .stl-formatted and are scaled to about 4 in (100 mm) on their longest dimension.

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NASA 3D Printing Extreme Access Flyer Drones for Space Exploration

(3DPrintingIndustry)NASA is creating drones that might be able to navigate in outer space. The space agency has already created a number of prototypes relying on off-the-shelf components and 3D printed parts. NASA is designing space drones, dubbed Extreme Access Flyers (EAFs) that can hover above rough terrain and take samples. Unlike the average quadcopter, NASA isnt using propellers to fly their space drones and, instead, have developed a propulsion system that relies on cold-gas jets that could run on oxygen or water vapor. The plan is to send these drones out to fly through space autonomously or controlled by humans on Earth to explore locations where no rover can go.

NASA has already constructed a few different models of their drones, including a palm-sized ducted fan flyer that theyve been test flying inside of their 10 x 10 foot test space and an EAF designed for asteroid exploration, which theyve suspended in a gimbal to understand how it will maneuver in zero gravity

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(MMSOnline) Machine learning is advancing the understanding of 3D printing processes and materials in three ways.

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NASA eyes 3D-printing tech to cut cost of powering heavy rocket

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NASA eyes 3D-printing tech to cut cost of powering heavy rocket

NASA eyes 3D-printing tech to cut cost of powering heavy rocket

NASA is relying on 3D printed technology to help boost the Space Launch System rocket.

Published: December 22, 2017 8:50 pm

By 3-D printing the hardware, more than 100 welds were eliminated, reducing costs by nearly 35 per cent and production time by more than 80 per cent. (Image Source: NASA)

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AS NASA builds its most powerful rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), the US space agency is testing engines with 3D-printed parts to cut costs of powering the heavy-lift rocket. A major milestone towards that end was achieved this month when engineers successfully hot-fire tested an RS-25 rocket engine with a large 3-D printed part, the US space agency said on Friday.

The 3-D printed part, called the pogo accumulator, is a beachball-sized piece of hardware that acts as a shock absorber by regulating liquid oxygen movement in the engine to prevent the vibrations that can destabilise a rockets flight, NASA said. By 3-D printing the hardware, more than 100 welds were eliminated, reducing costs by nearly 35 per cent and production time by more than 80 per cent.

Initial reports show the 3-D printed hardware performed as expected, opening the door for more components scheduled for future tests, the US space agency said. The test was part of the SLS Programmes RS-25 affordability initiative a collaborative effort between NASA and industry partner Aerojet Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, California, to reduce the engines overall production costs while maintaining performance, reliability and safety.

As we build future RS-25s, NASA and our partners are taking advantage of innovative manufacturing techniques, including additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, to make the engines more affordable, said Andy Hardin of NASAs Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. 3-D printing is revolutionising manufacturing, and the pogo accumulator is the first of many components that can be built more quickly and less expensively, Hardin said.

To minimise the costs of developing SLS, NASA selected the RS-25 engine. With modern fabrication processes, including additive manufacturing, the next generation of the RS-25 will have fewer parts and welds, reducing production time as well as costs, said Carol Jacobs, RS-25 engine lead at Marshall.

The test was part of the SLS Programmes RS-25 affordability initiative a collaborative effort between NASA and industry partner Aerojet Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, California. (Image Source: NASA)

Reducing the number of welds is very important, she said. With each weld comes inspections and possible rework. By eliminating welds, we make the hardware more reliable and the process much more lean and efficient, which makes it more cost-effective, Jacobs said. The SLS Program has ordered six new engines to be built by Aerojet Rocketdyne for future flights.

The test conducted on December 13 was the first in a series of four tests designed to evaluate the operation of the 3-D printed pogo accumulator, and the first in the series to certify the next generation of RS-25 engines. The new, pogo accumulator will be included on all tests moving forward, NASA said.

Future tests will incorporate more and more 3-D printed components, with each test series building on the previous tests, said Hardin. The first SLS flight is scheduled to take place no earlier than 2019, but NASA recently stated that this launch could be pushed back to 2020 depending on the manufacturing and production schedule, reported.

This flight will use SLS to send an un-crewed Orion spacecraft around the moon and back to Earth. A crewed mission will follow later, in the 2020s.

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NASA Is 3D Printing Chainmail for Space Travel

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Chainmailwas a form of armor popular during Medieval times that consists of hundreds of small metal rings linked together to form armor. While better protection has long made it obsolete, NASA has reimagined its potential as a way to protect astronauts during space travel. Of course, theyre not piecing it together like the people of yesteryear theyre printing it out.

Systems engineer Raul Polit Casillas of NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Pasadena, California is working with a team todevelop a metal fabricstrongly resembling chainmail in both look and functionality. It makes sense that Casillas would turn his attention to futuristic fabrichis mother is a fashion designer, after all. On its smooth, tiled side, the metallic fabric reflects light, while the other side absorbs it, so it can offer not only physical protection, but thermal protection too.

Rather than painstakingly linking each piece by hand, the fabric is 3Dmake that 4D printed. We call it 4-D printing because we can print both the geometry and the function of these materials, Casillas said in astatement. The printing process makes the material incredibly versatile, since it can be created both on Earth and in space.

When most of us think of chainmail, we think of body armor. But this space-age chainmail can be used for much more than protecting astronauts. It could be used to shield or insulate spacecraft, too, and to capture objects in space or on different planets. Its collapsible nature would make it great for large antennae and other devices astronauts would need to deploy. It could also spread out on a planets surface for a safer landing on rough terrain. Maybe the question isnt what NASAs 3D-printed chainmail can do, but whatcantit do?

One of the lightest solid materials in the world, aerogels are gels where the liquid has been replaced with gas. Theyre great for insulation because the air doesnt transfer heat very well, and theyre almost transparent, so they could be good for insulating windows.00:42

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NASA SpaceX adapting 3D-printing for space exploration

US to send diplomatic team to Europe to discuss Iran nuclear deal – Tillerson

NASA, SpaceX adapting 3D-printing for space exploration

The inability to print solid 3D objects from several different alloys, a challenging obstacle to using such parts in spacecraft, has been overcome by NASA. Meanwhile, SpaceX announced it actually used a 3D-printed part in a rocket launched in January.

When creating a product on a standard 3D printer, only one material is usually used in the process. Overcoming the problem that prevented the use of 3D printing in space technology construction, NASAs Jet Propulsion Lab, together with Caltech and Penn State University, have built the first real-life composite part a mirror mount made of several different alloys.

You can have a continuous transition from alloy to alloy to alloy, and you can study a wide range of potential alloys We think its going to change materials research in the future,R. Peter Dillon, a technologist at JPL,saidin a NASA press release.

The new technological process allows a 3D printer to switch between different types of alloys while creating a single part, thus tweaking its properties including melting temperature, density and other separately at different ends of the object. The project was first imagined by the team whos successfully landed Curiosity on Mars,NASA says.

Although this is not the first time an alloy per se was created with a 3D printer, since previously the process involved the creation of gradient alloys in certain research and development projects, its still the first time the technology has been used to create a useful object, according to mechanical engineer John Paul Borgonia.

What further sets the process apart is that unlike welding objects together, the connection which may later prove too fragile, this process creates a solid multi-alloy part from the start. This is absolutely indispensable in creating complex parts for spaceships, because having to fix something like that in space would prove immensely difficult.

The technique to achieve this technological feat has been in development since 2010. After Curiosity landed safely on the Red Planet, NASA began to take 3D printing using this method further.

Douglas Hofmann, a researcher in material science and metallurgy at JPL explained how the team was taking astandard 3D printing process and combining the ability to change the metal powder that the part is being built with on the fly.

You can constantly be changing the composition of the material,Hofmann added. And by employing a rotating rod when melding the alloys together, the transition is made from inside out, rather than a traditional layered 3D printing.

The team believes the possibilities are endless from machinery and industry here on Earth to complex space exploration tools on Mars.

In the meantime, SpaceX has set another milestone in the developing technology, announcing this week that they actually used a simple 3D-printed element in their rocket launched back in January. Printed of high performance superalloy Inconel, the 3D-printed Main Oxidizer Valve demonstrated a superior strength, ductility, and fracture resistance, the company said. And compared to traditional casting cycle of several months, the part was printed in less than two days.

On January 6, 2014, SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket with a 3D-printed Main Oxidizer Valve (MOV) body in one of the nine Merlin 1D engines. The mission marked the first time SpaceX had ever flown a 3D-printed part, with the valve operating successfully with high pressure liquid oxygen, under cryogenic temperatures and high vibration,the company said.

For almost 3 years, SpaceX has been evaluating the benefits of 3D printing and perfecting the techniques necessary to develop flight hardware,the company said, adding that right now they are testing a much more complex 3D-printed part an engine chamber for SuperDraco, that will power the launch escape system of the Dragon Version 2 spacecraft.

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