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TSU evaluates strength of blades produced by space 3D printer

Specialists assume that the space samples will be of higher quality because the materials for 3D printing are distributed more evenly in the absence of gravity

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According to Tomsk State University (TSU), test cosmonaut, Oleg Artemyev, has presented a dozen samples of blades to TSU that were created on the International Space Station (ISS) using the first Russian space 3D printer, which TSU scientists contributed to the development of, for mechanical testing. The samples have undergone strength testing at the TSU Research Institute of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics, and the researchers will compare them with the same blades printed on Earth.

Oleg Artemyev presented the space blades to Tomsk Region Governor, Vladimir Mazur, during their meeting at VDNKh, in Moscow, where a pavilion of the Tomsk Region was opened as part of the Russia International Exhibition and Forum. When the Governor returned to Tomsk, he presented the blades to TSU.

Such blades are standard for studying the strength and other properties of composite products created on 3D printers and then used in science with new materials.

“The new shift of ISS cosmonauts has printed more than just samples, which were previously gifted to the experiment participants but now their physical and mechanical characteristics will be studied. Using special equipment, we will test them for strength by tearing them in the thin part and monitoring under what loads this happens,” said Alexander Vorozhtsov, Vice-Rector for Research and Innovation at TSU.

TSU evaluates strength of blades produced by space 3D printer. Specialists assume that the space samples will be of higher quality.

Furthermore, scientists will compare the blades printed in space with blades printed on Earth. Specialists assume that the space samples will be of higher quality because the materials for 3D printing are distributed more evenly in the absence of gravity.

RSC Energia, TSU, and TPU scientists and engineers participated in creating the Russian first space 3D printer for manufacturing parts and tools aboard the ISS. The work was carried out as part of developing the scientific, technical, and educational potential of universities and academic institutions of the Tomsk Region to solve issues of the ISS long-term program.

The 3D printing experiment is dedicated to developing polymer materials products using 3D technologies in space. In the future, these technologies will enable cosmonauts on near-Earth orbital stations to create necessary parts and tools directly in space, without waiting for their delivery from Earth.

The 3D printer was delivered to the ISS for experiments in June 2022. In early fall, the first Russian crew members tested it aboard the station, printing 19 various samples, including the logo of Tomsk State University.

Oleg Artemyev visited TSU and several divisions of the university in February 2023. As a result of the visit, Artemyev proposed that TSU material scientists create equipment that would help to produce strong refractory materials onboard the ISS for the repair and recovery work that the station sometimes requires. TSU researchers have accepted the proposal and, if necessary, the university’s technical faculties’ scientists will be involved.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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