December 11, 2014 Alison Mehesz

Made In Space Reveals a Future Customer

Off-world manufacturing has gone from proof of concept to proof of business model in less than two weeks. Now that the Zero-G Printer has consecutively printed over 20 objects in space without any failed prints, our team at Made In Space is confidently transitioning from experimentation to capitalization. One week ago in Las Vegas, we announced the development of one of the first commercial products that will be manufactured on the International Space Station using our zero-gravity 3D printing technology. The object will be a critical part of exercise equipment developed by NASA Astronaut Yvonne Cagle, who finalized the part design along with Made In Space engineers.

Chen Made In Space AU2014

Speaking in the massive auditorium of the Mandalay Bay Las Vegas Casino, our Chief Strategy Officer, Mike Chen presented the 3D printed “buckle” along with Dr. Yvonne Cagle to an audience of ten-thousand participants as well as to hundreds of thousands more watching online. The presentation was part of the Autodesk University 2014 Closing Keynote Address, the annual event in which the design software giant provides everything from classes and certification courses for its products to talks from industry leaders and companies, like Made In Space, who are using Autodesk software to push the boundaries of digital design.

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The buckle itself is intended to be used along with stretchable materials already on the station in order to, safely gauge the relocating of lactic acid around target muscle groups, with only moderate exercise. This concentrated build-up of lactic acid has been shown to trigger various physiological effects in the body ultimately translating into much more efficient and effective workouts. While innovations like this are extremely valuable for short term human activity in space they are imperative for any long term human missions.

yvonne buckle

“Some of the researchers were actually able to determine and document that they were able to get two hours worth of equivalent exercise in only twenty minutes, some were even able to demonstrate new muscle growth” – Dr. Yvonne Cagle

Once the buckle is printed, it could conceivably be tested and iterated upon, incorporating user feedback from astronauts in order to optimize it for the zero-gravity environment. Rapid design cycles, which until now were prevented by the infrequency of rocket launches, will revolutionize space development and this buckle could potentially be one of the first objects to leverage this quantum leap in space manufacturing capabilities.

mike chen buckle

“If you know how to use these tools, these digital design tools, then you are going to be the ones that define the actual future of space exploration.” -Mike Chen

The buckle is scheduled to be qualified for print in 2015, after the Zero-G Printer has completed its remaining planned technology demonstration test prints. This means the buckle would be printed on Made In Space’s second generation 3D printer going up in Q2 of 2015 which will print with multiple materials and have a higher resolution and larger print volume than the current printer. Made In Space is also planning to send up a material recycler the following year which will further reduce the space station’s dependency on Earth. As Made In Space develops more and more in-space manufacturing capabilities, those capabilities will become more and more suited for commercial activities. At a time when commercial space activity couldn’t be hotter, Made In Space is positioned to radically redefine how that commercial activity will actually be done.

The full keynote can be viewed here:

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