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3D Printing: Turning Science Fiction into Science Fact on the Construction Site

Aug 16, 2017

When was the last time your supervisor or foreman created a replacement tool or part on the job? With all the privatized space exploration start-ups, and NASA’s own ambitious plans to go deeper into Space, new technologies continue to play vital roles in health and maintenance. 3D printing is being fine-tuned and utilized to produce needed devices in situations previously limited due to space and storage concerns. Astronauts have to pack light. But, how do you bring all the necessities for a six-month flight? Incidents of injuries to fingers and hands increase in Space. How do you pack all those splints? Dr. Julielynn Wong says 3D printing is the doctor’s bag of the future. She customized splints to the shape of astronauts’ fingers arranging holes into a star pattern during her space travel. Wong knew the made-in-Space devices would work because she had printed and tested 10 surgical devices back on earth three years earlier. 3D printing allows necessities to be manufactured in Space – or in rural areas on Earth where access is limited.

Watch clip from CNN on additive manufactured medical equipment in Space:

Screen Shot 2017-08-16 at 4.54.01 PMDo electrical contractors have stories of printing parts, tools or other supplies needed on a job? Even the U.S. Marine Corps has a division for Additive Manufacturing. In an effort to solicit ideas to address challenges faced in daily routines, the Marines believe that everything from ammunition to autonomous vehicles could come from the Corps’ cadre of 3D printers. Corporal Rhet McNeal (26 yrs. old) constructed “Scout” a fixed-wing unmanned aerial system (UAS) almost entirely from 3D-printed components. Surveillance drones can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to construct and operate. McNeal’s “Scout” cost around $600 to build, fits in a standard-issue pack, can be broken down in a little over two minutes, assembled and in the air in five minutes! Wings and broken parts can be replaced in a couple of hours with 3D printers. Imagine the time and money to be saved on a construction site!

Read articles about 3D printing in Space and on the battlefield to learn more.

NECA Technology – the Project for Applied and Disruptive Technology, explores the world of technology and keeps members informed of what’s happening today, and of what will be launched in the not too distant future.  Dr. Joey Shorter has an extensive background in education and experience in translating the work of academics into understandable, practical ideas.