Last week, we were at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center to deliver the Electronic Alchemy eForge version 0.6 to NASA. The version 0.6 eForge represents the culmination of over 2 years of working with NASA, and the completion of our Phase II STTR contract with the agency.
Our History of Working with NASA
We have been working with, and having our work supported by, NASA for over two years. We won a Phase I STTR contract with NASA in 2016, with the goal of developing the capability to 3D print electronic devices. We realized this goal in 2017 having successfully created both the proprietary 3D printable filaments necessary for the printing of electronics and a number of early versions of the eForge printer.
After completion of our Phase I STTR, we were awarded a Phase II STTR in 2017 to further develop the eForge with the goal of developing a fully-functional prototype design ready as a precursor for the commercial model. The Electronic Alchemy eForge version 0.6 was successfully delivered to NASA last week.
Also in 2017, NASA contracted with us to design, print, and test chemical sensors. Researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center have developed a highly sensitive, low-power graphene-based sensor that detects corrosive gases that can cause orbiting spacecraft to lose altitude prematurely and plunge to Earth. We successfully printed samples of these sensors and delivered them to NASA.
We have just received stellar evaluations from our contract manager as we have completed all contract requirements and undergone final reviews.
The first Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) that we were awarded from NASA allowed us to begin the research and testing of semiconductor mixtures that ultimately allowed us to get to the filament materials that we have now. We tried many different approaches until the right chemical, electrical, and mechanical process presented itself. NASA has been a strong partner in this development and we see further innovation to come as we soon put this revolutionary technology into your hands.
Future Work with NASA
The research and development that we have done in partnership with NASA to date has been revolutionary, yet the work we are beginning stands to be even more impactful.
Our team has recently been awarded a NASA Cooperative Agreement Notice to develop a recycling process for 3D printed devices. Over the past few months we have been developing a process that will allow us to separate multi-material prints back to their individual components then reconstituted as new filaments. The pictures shown are of the first prototype of our Electronic Alchemy device recycling engine.
Why NASA is Invested in 3D Printing
The advancement of additive manufacturing is of paramount importance to NASA. Resupply missions to astronauts in low earth orbit can take months or even years. For planned missions to the Moon and Mars, resupply missions would take even longer.
The ability to 3D print tools and other items will allow astronauts to create the items they need, on demand, without waiting for costly resupply missions. This is of particular value as it relates to mission critical devices and components, like the chemical sensor printed on the eForge.
Terrestrial Applications for eForge
The terrestrial use of NASA-backed technology has a long history from LASIK to water purification and countless others.
The ability to 3D print fully-functional electronics is even more revolutionary. The 3D printing of sensors presents a broad range of use cases across industries as diverse as aerospace and biomedicine.
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