A 3D printer is slated to arrive at the International Space Station next year, where it will start producing the first parts ever manufactured off planet Earth.
The goal of 3-D printing for NASA is to take this capability to microgravity for use on the International Space Station. In space, whatever astronauts have available on orbit is what they have to use but just like on Earth, parts break or get lost. When that happens, there’s a wait for replacement parts, or the need to have multiple spares that have to be launched. The ability to conduct 3-D printing in space could change all of that.