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Could You Email Me That Tool?

Posted by Glenn-Zookeeper on

Could you email me that tool?

International Space Station Commander Barry "Butch" Wilmore shows off a ratchet wrench made with a 3-D printer on station.

International Space Station Commander Barry "Butch" Wilmore shows off a ratchet wrench made with a 3-D printer on station.
Image Credit: NASA

What do you do when you’re 268 miles above earth, no hardware store in sight and you need a ratchet wrench to make repairs on your space ship? If you can download a file and it fits on your 3d printer, problem solved. While this isn't the first 3d printed object made in space, it is the first created to meet the demands of an astronaut. NASA was testing how tools could be printed, on demand, in space.

I remember back when Scotty needed an odd tool to fix their star ship. They had a library of parts to choose from and their replicator would make the part or tool. Will space missions generate tool libraries so astronauts could save space and print on demand? Think of a vast library of parts and tools to meet any needs in space. This could also be done here on earth for ships at sea or even the outback. Like you’re going to find a hardware store in the jungle? With internet and email availability, options are limitless.

Gorilla Maker printed 3d wrench and NASA rendition.

NASA provided the STL for download and we printed one out of red ABS. We chose ABS over PLA as we have found PLA doesn’t flex well and is not very strong. Printing took 3 ½ hours with no raft or support and used almost 15,000mm of filament. That’s almost 50 feet! Our testing shows the wrench can withstand 3 inches per pound of torque. Not too shabby for a 3d printed plastic tool.

STL File from NASA : http://nasa3d.arc.nasa.gov/detail/wrench-mis
Thingiverse link to NASA Wrenches : http://www.thingiverse.com/search?q=nasa+wrench&sa=

Time

Print Time
≈ 3h 17m

Measurements

Width = 33.13 mm | Height = 26.00 mm
Length = 114.23 mm | Layer Height .20 mm

                            Filament Usage

Filament Used ≈ 14763.20 mm