December 12, 2014 Alison Mehesz

National Exhibit Honors Made In Space Design

Today the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design, became the new Cooper Hewitt. After three years of closed renovation the museum, operating out of the century-old Andrew Carnegie Mansion in New York City, opened its doors to the public and revealed 60 percent more exhibition space, gigantic ultra-HD interactive surfaces, smart pens that blend reality with the digital world, and some of the most high tech display wizardry most have probably ever seen in a museum. Much like the field of design, an art form with the user in mind, the museum itself engages visitors in the process of educating them and we at Made In Space were honored to be part of this grand reopening.


From a 1.85 million-year old stone chopper to real-time data of the Sun’s surface, the “Tools: Extending Our Reach” exhibit focuses on the design of the tools that have extended human capabilities throughout time. The steel monolith standing proudly among them is the Made In Space designed Zero-G Printer, a heavily designed tool itself, which will open up a new era of design. A tool that for the first time in human history, leverages the versatility of 3D printing with the physics of a zero gravity environment, ushering in a field of design so new that the only things that have been designed for it to date are the test objects designed by the engineers who made the printer. It’s easy to imagine structures that are freed from the confines of gravity, functional objects that are as light and gossamer as space allows or tools that take into account the physiological changes in the body when it’s floating in zero-G. Soon we will create objects that are truly designed for space rather than objects that are over engineered just so they can survive the violent launch to orbit. To call this field of design “new” would be like calling a child “young” before it’s born, yet it’s easy to imagine designers specializing in zero-G structures, as well as lunar-G, and martian-G structures as the extension of our cosmic footprint necessitates design solutions for new environments. Eventually we imagine all of these gravity dependent designs blending with each other and feeding back into design decisions made here in good old fashioned Earth-G, marking a line in the sand of history between the time our design decisions were inherently chained to the assumptions of Earth gravity and the time we freed our minds to the possibilities of designing for everywhere else.


The Zero-G Printer is being displayed along with 13 of the first 21 objects that were printed in space. These objects were designed by Made In Space as part of the 3D Printing In Zero-G Technology Demonstration developed with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Completing the collection is Jon Lomberg’s Golden Plate, a duplicate of the plate that was affixed to the interior of the printer prior to its launch on September 21, 2014.The plate was inspired by Jon Lomberg’s historic contributions to the Voyager Golden Record.


Along with everything else, the Made In Space display is accompanied with a monitor that loops through video of the Zero-G Printer’s development process, including zero-gravity parabolic flight tests, the SpaceX rocket launch that delivered the printer to space, the installation of the printer on the ISS, and even an artist’s rendering of the printer creating small satellites which are then launched into orbit.


The video can be watched in its entirety here:


For those looking to see the exhibit in which Made In Space is featured, it will be on display until May 2015. Cooper Hewitt is located at 2 East 91st Street at Fifth Avenue in New York City. Hours are Sunday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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