As part of NASA’s program to develop a 3D printing process whereby they can send data files necessary to build essential items from Earth into space, back in December, NASA sent up a .STL file so that the team on the International Space Station could build a wrench / spanner.
As Niki Werkheiser, the space station 3-D printer program manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, explains: “For the printer’s final test in this phase of operations, NASA wanted to validate the process for printing on demand, which will be critical on longer journeys to Mars…In less than a week, the ratchet was designed, approved by safety and other NASA reviewers, and the file was sent to space where the printer made the wrench in four hours.”
Eventually the wrench will be returned to Earth for testing to ascertain it performance. The wrench is ~11.4cm long and ~3.3cm wide and was designed by Noah Paul-Gin, an engineer at Made In Space Inc., the company that was contracted to design, build and operate the printer.
So, in keeping with our search for interesting objects to 3D print we provide you here with opportunity to download the same .STL file that was sent to the international space station.
Why not give it a go. We would be very interested in your opinions as to how well it works, what materials work best and we would certainly like to here about your improvements. Please dress up as an astronaut and take a picture of yourself holding the wrench and we will put it in the gallery.