World’s first 3D Printed space camera made by NASA
We already spoke here on the blog about how NASA has been investigating better ways to feed astronauts, creating solutions to 3D print meals. And food is not the only way NASA is helping to improve 3D printing: they’re already using 3D printing to make rocket engine parts and physical photos from the Hubble Space Telescope.
And this September, another innovation will come up: NASA’s aerospace engineer Jason Budinoff expects to complete the first 3D printed space camera made almost entirely with 3D printing technology.
Budinoff is using 3D printing to build a 2-inch camera for a CubeSat (a tiny satellite comprised of individual units each about four inches on a side) and also a 14-inch dual-channel telescope whose size is more representative of a typical space telescope.
Both instruments are being built to demonstrate how 3D printing can improve space exploration, cutting down both the time and cost of traditional manufacturing.
With 3D printing it is not only possible to design internal features and passages because components are built layer by layer, but also to reduce the number of parts in 10 times, compared to a traditionally manufactured camera – which is very important as it reduces the overall cost of building space exploring instruments.
“When we build telescopes for science instruments, it usually involves hundreds of pieces. These components are complex and very expensive to build. But with 3D printing, we can reduce the overall number of parts and make them with nearly arbitrary geometries. We’re not limited by traditional mill- and lathe-fabrication operations,” said Budinoff.