What does manufacturing look like in the final frontier?
In the not-so-distant past, there were times when much of the technology we embrace today was written off as science fiction. Smartwatches, tablets, and VR headsets are now part of everyday reality, the additive manufacturing sector is constantly buzzing with new ideas, products, techniques, and machinery that help improve and enhance businesses as well as general quality of life.
But what happens when 3D printing is literally taken to new heights?
Just ask Made In Space, a group of entrepreneurs, scientists, and developers who helped NASA launch the first 3D printer into space earlier this year.
“Manufacturing in space has been something that has been a given in science fiction since time immemorial,” said Made In Space President Andrew Rush in a recent interview with TCT. “By having a manufacturing facility stationed in space, we can save thousands of dollars and cut the time significantly.”
Founded in 2010, the company strives to “enable humanity’s future in space” by developing new technologies designed to operate in microgravity environments. AMF, an elaborate and permanent 3D printing system used on the International Space Station, is already making a splash with projected improvements in costs and lead times.
But why is important to have a 3D printer in space?
According to NASA, it takes over 6 months and costs roughly $10,000 to send a pound of payload into orbit. Many items also have to go through lengthy and expensive certification processes, which causes substantial problems if a crew member needs a tool or replacement part. However, Made In Space produced a total of 25 parts in a 28-hour period when an earlier model of their Zero-G 3D Printer was sent to the ISS in 2014.
“We proved that if things go awry on a mission, we can fix it with 3D printing,” Rush told TCT.
Made In Space’s recent successes form only a fraction of the company’s larger goal, which is to create technology capable of building complex structures – like satellites and space stations – prior to launching them into orbit.
Back on Earth, however, we are constantly looking for opportunities to bring this innovative technology to Northeast Ohio. Over the last 25 years, MAGNET engineer Dave Pierson has worked on projects for hundreds of manufacturers, many of which have seen substantial improvements after additive manufacturing was introduced to their business plans.
“Companies need to keep up with emerging technologies if they want to succeed,” Pierson said. “There are so many great things to learn about in additive, and we will see excellent results once these ideas are implemented on a more widespread basis.”
Want to know how additive manufacturing can revolutionize your operations? Call MAGNET at 216.600.1022 or email email@example.com to schedule a consultation!
For updates on Made In Space and its ongoing projects, follow Andrew Rush (@rushspace) on Twitter.
MAGNET is a part of Ohio MEP, part of the NIST-MEP program.
HEADLINE The survey definitively shows that product innovation leads to more growth, while “grow your own workforce” strategies will be needed to fill the major labor shortages hampering small manufacturer growth. Emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, and digital manufacturing are beginning to enhance innovation and productivity, but still have significant room for adoption amongst Ohio’s small manufacturing businesses. ABOUT THE SURVEY Under the direction of the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Ohio MEP), MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network conducted a thorough survey of Ohio’s manufacturing base. Contributing approximately 20% of Ohio’s jobs (and driving in some regions up to 50% of Ohio’s economy), and generating a disproportionate amount of export revenues and Gross Regional Product, manufacturing is critical to Ohio. Greater than 95% of Ohio’s manufacturers are small (under 500 employees), and these manufacturers need to remain competitive both nationally and internationally to ensure our economy’s health. Ohio’s Development Services Agency and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which runs the MEP, recognizes the importance of this sector and fuels MAGNET and the Ohio MEP program to directly serve and support innovation, efficiency, and growth in small and medium manufacturers. What manufacturers need
How Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Can Help Keep Our Engineers Safe and Our Manufacturing Strong Recall how difficult it was to put together complex LEGO creations when you were a child or helping a child. Now, picture assembling a fighter plane from a room full of parts. Even highly trained engineers can benefit from technology to help improve consistency and quality. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are making near-perfect assembly a possibility in the manufacturing space. By wearing AR glasses that use cameras, depth sensors and motion sensors to overlay images onto the real working environment, engineers and factory workers can visualize the exact bolts, parts, part numbers and instructions on how to assemble a particular component correctly. Lockheed Martin began using AR goggles and improved F-35 assembly time by 30 percent, in addition to increasing accuracy to 96 percent. In order to remain competitive, businesses should consider the ways VR and AR can improve efficiency and supply chain productivity. According to a recent BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research report, AR platforms can provide companies up to 25 percent in cost savings on installation of equipment. Here are four ways VR/AR is disrupting the mid-market manufacturing space:
Why should you consider TechLink? To date: More than 1,270 technology transfer partnerships brokered between companies and 110 DoD labs or centers, including all 65 DoD labs that generate patented inventions More than 600 license agreements facilitated between DoD and companies nationwide, transferring over 1,000 DoD inventions to industry Facilitated 60% of total DoD licensing agreements over the past 10 years What does TechLink Specialize in? TechLink specializes in 10 technology areas: Energy, BioTech, Materials, Sensors, Photonics, Software/Info Technology, Military Technology, Electronics and Environmental Technologies. 4 Ways TechLink can help you: Actively market DoD inventions to industry nationwide Help companies evaluate these inventions and submit license applications Facilitate communications between DoD labs and companies leading to “win-win” license agreements for both parties Maintain the nation’s only comprehensive database of DoD-patented inventions, fully searchable through techlinkcenter.org Why should you believe in TechLink? Check out the TechLink technology database and the Technology Spotlight for regular updates on available technologies and contact information for the related Technology Manager. The Manager will help you assess the technology for your company needs, facilitate your connection with DoD, and walk you through the licensing process. Most DoD inventions have civilian and commercial applications. DoD technologies licensed by TechLink have generated