Building a Future: Space Station Crew 3-D Prints First Student-Designed Tool in Space

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When NASA dismissed adult a Additive Manufacturing Facility on a International Space Station to start some-more contrast of a rising 3-D copy record in orbit, one college tyro in sold watched intently.

In autumn of 2014, a high propagandize comparison in Enterprise, Alabama, Robert Hillan entered a Future Engineers Space Tool pattern competition, that challenged students to emanate a device astronauts could use in space. The locate was that it contingency upload electronically and imitation on a new 3-D printer that was going to be commissioned on a orbiting laboratory.

In Jan 2015, NASA and a American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation announced that Hillan’s design, a Multipurpose Precision Maintenance Tool, was comparison out of hundreds of entries to be printed on a station.

The Mulitpurpose Precision Maintenance Tool, combined by University of Alabama in Huntsville tyro Robert Hillan as partial of a Future Engineers Space Tool Challenge, was printed on a International Space Station. It is designed to yield astronauts with a singular apparatus that can assistance with a accumulation of tasks, including tightening nuts or bolts of opposite sizes and stripping wires. Credits: NASA

The Mulitpurpose Precision Maintenance Tool, combined by University of Alabama in Huntsville tyro Robert Hillan as partial of a Future Engineers Space Tool Challenge, was printed on a International Space Station. It is designed to yield astronauts with a singular apparatus that can assistance with a accumulation of tasks, including tightening nuts or bolts of opposite sizes and stripping wires.
Credits: NASA

“Our hurdles entice students to invent objects for astronauts, that can be both moving and impossibly tough,” pronounced Deanne Bell, owner and executive of a Future Engineers challenges. “Students contingency have a creativity to innovate for a singular sourroundings of space, though also a practical, hands-on believe to make something organic and useful. It’s a ethereal balance, though this mixed of creativity, methodical skills, and fluency in stream record is during a heart of engineering education.”

Hillan’s pattern facilities mixed collection on one compress unit, including opposite sized wrenches, drives to insert sockets, a pointing measuring apparatus for handle gauges, and a single-edged handle stripper. After a new production trickery was commissioned on a hire in March, NASA uploaded Hillan’s pattern to be printed.

As a bonus, Hillan was invited to watch his apparatus come off a printer from a singular vantage point. On Jun 15, hire amidst a moody controllers in a Payload Operations Integration Center during NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, that is goal control for space hire science, Hillan looked on as NASA wanderer Jeff Williams displayed a finished apparatus from a station’s Additive Manufacturing Facility. The Marshall Center is located usually a few miles from where Hillan is a sophomore engineering tyro during a University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Robert Hillan, a sophomore engineering tyro during a University of Alabama in Huntsville, watches a 3-D printer on a International Space Station finish his winning pattern for a Future Engineers Space Tool Challenge. Part of his esteem for winning a foe was going behind a scenes to watch a copy routine from NASA's Payload Operations Integration Center -- goal control for space hire scholarship located during NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. Credits: NASA

Robert Hillan, a sophomore engineering tyro during a University of Alabama in Huntsville, watches a 3-D printer on a International Space Station finish his winning pattern for a Future Engineers Space Tool Challenge. Part of his esteem for winning a foe was going behind a scenes to watch a copy routine from NASA’s Payload Operations Integration Center — goal control for space hire scholarship located during NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.
Credits: NASA

“I am intensely beholden that we was given a event to pattern something for phony on a space station,” Hillan said. “I have always had a passion for space exploration, and space transport in general. we designed a apparatus to adjust to opposite situations, and as a outcome we wish to see variants of a apparatus being used in a future, hopefully when it can be combined regulating stronger materials.”

Not usually did Hillan get to watch his apparatus being made, he also got to spend a few mins chatting with astronauts on a station.

NASA wanderer Tim Kopra, a stream hire organisation member, congratulated Hillan, observant “When we have a problem, it will expostulate specific mandate and solutions. 3-D copy allows we to do a discerning pattern to accommodate those requirements. That’s a beauty of this apparatus and this technology. You can furnish something we hadn’t expected and do it on brief notice.”

“You have a good destiny forward of you.”

The space station’s 3-D printer held inhabitant headlines late in 2014 when it started operations and built scarcely dual dozen representation designs that were returned to a Marshall Center for serve testing. NASA is stability 3-D copy growth that will infer useful on a journey to Mars with a newly commissioned Additive Manufacturing Facility.

“When a partial breaks or a apparatus is misplaced, it is formidable and cost-prohibitive to send adult a deputy part,” pronounced Niki Werkheiser, NASA’s 3-D Printer module manager during Marshall. “With this technology, we can build what is indispensable on direct instead of watchful for resupply. We might even be means to build whole structures regulating materials we find on Mars.”

Winning this foe done Hillan see a space attention in a opposite light, and it might have altered a instruction of his future.

“When we won a competition, we started saying problems we face as new opportunities to emanate and learn,” Hillan said. “Since afterwards we have attempted to seize each event that presents itself. we adore anticipating solutions to problems, and we wish to request that genius as we pursue my engineering grade and someday launch my possess company.”

NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division, in partnership with a American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation, continues to yield an ongoing array of Future Engineers 3-D Space Design Challenges. Through these challenges, students turn a creators and innovators of tomorrow by regulating 3-D displaying program to contention their designs of 3-D printable objects for an wanderer to theoretically use in space. See Future Engineers for formula and a latest information about a series.