posted on Mar, 21 2012 @ 11:41 AM
We’re going to need a lot of tools as we expand into space – to build and maintain space stations and craft. However, the problem of how to
replace tools should they break has always been a worry. After all, it’s quite an undertaking to fly them into orbit. But now scientists believe
astronauts will be able to build unlimited replacements – simply by printing them.
Pick your poison....You either fly replacement tools into space, or you fly the raw material to manufacture the tool. In fact, you need MORE volume
of the raw material than whatever it is you're going to make....and it has a shelf life....and it often requires some pre and post processing
equipment besides the machine that makes the parts....the list goes on.
In the amazing film a huge adjustable wrench is first of all scanned into a computer, down to the accuracy of 40 microns – slightly less than
the width of a human hair.
40 microns? Woooo! Amazing! That's a whole thousandth and a half of an inch! Too bad things like bearings and other "precision" type parts require
fits in the ten thousandths and even smaller range, which is an order of magnitude or two better than the capability of this kind of process.
Don't get me wrong, it's definitely cool tech which has come a long way since it first appeared in the 90's, and has multitudes of valuable uses, but
we're a LONG LONG WAY from printing real machines with the same capabilities as the ones we currently manufacture "old school", yo.
edit on 21-3-2012 by tjack because: (no reason given)