NASA is readying to send a 3-D printer to the International Space Station next year, which could eventually reduce the need for tools, spare parts and other supplies to be brought up to the orbiting outpost. The printers create objects by extruding layers of plastic
from long strands that are coiled around large spools, and NASA engineers have
been using them in their labs to create replacement parts, rocket pieces and
even small satellites that could be released from the space station and transmit
data to Earth. The first 3-D printer is set to be set up in the fall of 2014 on
a demonstration test mission.