3D Printing: “Houston, we have a problem. Email us the solution”

On November 11, 2015 Dr. Tommaso Ghidini, Head of the Materials Technology Section at the European Space Agency spoke about the transformative role of 3D printing in space exploration to the European Space Agency’s first TEDx conference.

Dr. Ghidini is engaging. His presentation is excellent, with clear lay-level explanations of both the process and the advantages of 3D printing. He uses both actual events and practical future applications to make several important points.

Dr. Ghidini talks about how a failed water valve on the ISS ten years ago prompted a discussion of 3D printing among his colleagues. 3D printing was in its infancy then but it was possible to 3D print a replacement for the water valve.

Compared to the traditionally manufactured valve, the 3D printed version was about half the weight, had taken hours as opposed to days to make, and was much less expensive. It worked. His team had 3D printed a water valve.

But the ESA team raised another question.
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