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ISS NASA Build

NASA 'Emails' a Socket Wrench To the ISS 152

HughPickens.com writes: "Sarah LeTrent reports at CNN that NASA just emailed the design of a socket wrench to astronauts so that they could print it out in the orbit. The ratcheting socket wrench was the first "uplink tool" printed in space, according to Grant Lowery, marketing and communications manager for Made In Space, which built the printer in partnership with NASA. The tool was designed on the ground, emailed to the space station and then manufactured where it took four hours to print out the finished product. The space agency hopes to one day use the technology to make parts for broken equipment in space and long-term missions would benefit greatly from onboard manufacturing capabilities. "I remember when the tip broke off a tool during a mission," recalls NASA astronaut TJ Creamer, who flew aboard the space station during Expedition 22/23 from December 2009 to June 2010. "I had to wait for the next shuttle to come up to bring me a new one. Now, rather than wait for a resupply ship to bring me a new tool, in the future, I could just print it."
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NASA 'Emails' a Socket Wrench To the ISS

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  • by Todd Palin ( 1402501 ) on Sunday December 21, 2014 @03:22AM (#48645363)

    I really wouldn't want to use a plastic socket on much of anything. But, why on earth was there not a decent socket set on the ISS in the first place? (pun intended)

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Tools break. Unforeseen circumstances happen. Snobs troll slashdot.

    • by itzly ( 3699663 )
      Why on earth was there even an ISS in the first place ?
    • by LostMyBeaver ( 1226054 ) on Sunday December 21, 2014 @04:03AM (#48645475)
      There almost certainly was a socket wrench available. The point is that a socket wrench is a highly complex tool that depends on precision and rigidity to produce. The fact that the multiple components of a socket wrench could in fact be printed is a major accomplishment. A hammer or screwdriver would not have been an appropriate test. This was.

      The question is, after printing it, was the produced wrench a suitable alternative and could it accomplish the task it was needed for. ABS, even in the resolution and density they're printing isn't very rigid. I have seen a great deal of information regarding the fact that the tool was printing and more so, how excited everyone was that Autodesk Inventor was used. What I haven't seen is whether ABS used :
        1) had a negative impact to the air quality and scrubbers on the ISS. The ABS I use (even stuff I specially looked for) produces a great deal of noxious fumes. I tend to print with the windows open.
        2) The printout was rigid enough to be useful as a tool. I have absolutely no doubt that making extra parts for the station is entirely possible and smarter than keeping spare parts for everything. But did they manage to produce a wrench worth using?

      As a bonus... can they release the design they printed as a benchmark for the hobbyist community to use for making their own improved printers. The high resolution photos of the wrench looked great.
      • by itzly ( 3699663 )
        From the pictures in the link, it looks like the 3D printer is completely closed off and has its own air filter.
    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday December 21, 2014 @04:08AM (#48645491)

      I really wouldn't want to use a plastic socket on much of anything.

      Really? Because I would give my left kidney for it if having one would save my life. I don't think anyone actually sent this print up there because they don't have one. There's these things called "proof of concept".A lot of slashdot readers seem to be unfamiliar with the concept.

      • There's these things called "proof of concept".A lot of slashdot readers seem to be unfamiliar with the concept.

        [citation needed]. Where's your proof?

    • by itzly ( 3699663 )
      Actually, they only printed the wrench. If you attach a metal socket, it's probably quite capable.
      • If you attach a metal socket, it's probably quite capable.

        I wouldn't expect a lot. I snapped the solid steel drive on a 1/2" ratchet right off the last time I did my brakes trying to get a frozen caliper bolt out . It took an 18" breaker bar with a 3/4" drive in combination with a floor jack to get enough torque on the breaker bar to finally get the bolt loose. I don't foresee an ABS tool handling that kind of stress.
        • by itzly ( 3699663 )
          Who cares about your contrived example ? They're in the ISS, where everything is assembled with white gloves and torque wrenches. They're not fixing rusty old cars.
          • It's not a contrived (that means "unlikely and made up for the purposes of the argument", BTW) example - it actually did happen, and happens more often than you might think. Just because a good portion of the ISS was built under ideal conditions doesn't mean that fasteners can't stick. There are parts that have been in space for more than 15 years, after all.

            But to respond to your statement directly, no, a metal socket isn't going to help the first bit when the drive, ratchet, or handle is made of a fl
            • But to respond to your statement directly, no, a metal socket isn't going to help the first bit when the drive, ratchet, or handle is made of a flimsy plastic like ABS or PLA, even if it's injection molded. If the fastener is hard enough to turn that it breaks an ABS socket, then it's going to break the wrench instead when you use a steel socket on it.

              Are you a mechanical engineer? It certainly doesn't sound like it when you jump to the conclusion that the largest and sturdiest part of a tool would fail before the fine tool end that contacts the nut.

              A metal tool-end most definitely WOULD help and make the resulting tool far more sturdy.

              • It certainly doesn't sound like it when you jump to the conclusion that the largest and sturdiest part of a tool would fail before the fine tool end that contacts the nut.

                I'm not an M.E., but I've seen enough drives/ratchets break with intact sockets (and no, they weren't impact sockets) to know that one can't make that statement categorically.
                • I recently broke a Craftsman 1/2" to 3/8" socket drive adapter by breaking off the 3/8 drive nub, but it took a cheater bar to supply sufficient force.

            • by itzly ( 3699663 )

              If the fastener is hard enough to turn that it breaks an ABS socket, then it's going to break the wrench instead when you use a steel socket on it.

              No, because the force = torque / arm, so the force increases as you get closer to the nut/screw. Try this socket for example: http://www.vartools.com/images... [vartools.com] It's obvious that the forces on the socket/bit are much greater than the forces on the wrench.

              • so the force increases as you get closer to the nut/screw.

                You're absolutely right, which means the *ratchet and drive* are under the highest stress.
                • by itzly ( 3699663 )
                  In some cases, maybe. But that's hardly a practical concern because you can simply print a wrench without a ratchet if you need the extra strength.
                • You're absolutely right, which means the *ratchet and drive* are under the highest stress.

                  Those parts are bigger than the output. The highest force is applied to the output, not the ratcheting mechanism, because the output is of lesser diameter.

                  • Those parts are bigger than the output. The highest force is applied to the output, not the ratcheting mechanism, because the output is of lesser diameter.

                    That's assuming that the fastener is the smallest element in the system, and things get worse very quickly when the fastener is substantially bigger than the drive. In my particular case, it was a 1/2" drive on an 18mm socket, and it was the drive that broke. The size of the ratchet head was about an inch, so I'm guessing the ratchet itself was also
                    • If you're turning a 1/2" bolt using a Hulk-like plastic ratchet with a 1" drive, you will have a lot more mechanical advantage to work with.

                      As an added bonus, big oversized tools are easier to work with while wearing gloves...

            • by itzly ( 3699663 )

              it actually did happen, and happens more often than you might think

              Not on space stations.

          • by PPH ( 736903 )

            NASA. The people that had to break a handle off the Hubble Space Telescope because they don't know basic mechanics' tricks for disassembling stuff.

        • Wouldn't an impact wrench have been a more appropriate tool in that case? Or a regular wrench + a good number of firm taps with a hammer? An 18" lever and floor jack sounds like a good recipe to break off a frozen bolt.
          • Wouldn't an impact wrench have been a more appropriate tool in that case?

            Yes it would, but I didn't have one available at the time.

            Or a regular wrench + a good number of firm taps with a hammer?

            Tried that before breaking out the jack.

            An 18" lever and floor jack sounds like a good recipe to break off a frozen bolt.

            Yeah, it is a lot of times. After the first attempt, I let it sit for a couple of days with penetrating oil on it, and I had the drill ready to go if things went south. I was fr
          • There must be a weak spot somewhere; apply enough force and you'll find it.

            With luck, it'll be the joint between the parts you want unstuck.

        • Most people seem to be missing the historical significance of this. Today it's just a plastic wrench, yes. In another 50 or 100 or 500 years? 3D-printing (or 'custom local manufacturing', or a 'replicator', or whatever you want to call it) is going to play an important part in all our extra-planetary exploration endeavors - and historically, humans of the future will be looking back at this crappy plastic wrench as the first real-world example of a 'replicator' producing something in space.
          • by Rei ( 128717 )

            Indeed. 3d printing is not going to be suitable for mass production, for keeping a whole colony supplied in bulk components.** But for small specialty parts, it seems like an obvious answer to that piece of the equation. As the tech advances, it's just going to get more and more capable. I'm personally looking much forward to seeing whether a 3d printer that works based on thermal spraying would work out - then your production material choice would be almost limitless, pretty much any powder or small fiber

            • While a programmable molder would be awesome, it would pretty much by definition not be a 3D printer. There is some overlap with using a 3D printers to make traditional casting molds though. That's something we could even do with today's technology, though the surface might want some final polishing before you begin casting. I imagine laser-sintered titanium could make for adequate stamping tools as well.

              There's also the possibility of 3D printers that print an entire layer at a time, rather than individ

              • It's common enough to print a mould. You make your plastic part, use the plastic part to make an impression in sand, pour metal into the sand. It's just plain old-fashioned metal casting - but the 3D printer can greatly reduce the skill required and the turnaround time for one-off parts.

                • Sure, you could do that - but that's not printing the mold, that's making a mold from a printed object..

                  I'm saying print the mold itself. You know what the casting should look like, which means you also know what the mold should look like, so you could print the blocks of metal which make up the mold, slap them into the injection molder, and spit out 100,000 castings. Or if you want to cast metal, print the mold in ceramic or plaster or whatever.

                • by Rei ( 128717 )

                  The difference with a 3d moulder being that, instead of taking a couple hours to 3d print a mould, then stop your production line and manually install the new mould in place of the old, then start it back up again you could effectively instantly form 3d mould (via microactuators or whatnot), do a 15 minute production run and make a couple hundred parts, then move on to mass producing the next part you need with no break in-between. Your "factory" could be in full production mode nonstop yet have a single li

          • 3D printing will be irrelevant in 500 years.
    • "The best socket wrench is the one you have on you"
    • by mikael ( 484 )

      I used acrylic plastic in my dental fillings. Hardened using UV light and still going strong after 20 years.

  • it seems not working :)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I read that as NASA emails wrench to ISIS.
    My first thought was, ISIS has an email address?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21, 2014 @06:38AM (#48645781)

    You wouldn't steal a car.
    You wouldn't steal a handbag.
    You wouldn't steal a tv.
    You wouldn't steal a socket wrench.

    3D PRINTING IS STEALING.
    STEALING IS AGAINST THE LAW.
    3D PRINTING. IT'S A CRIME.

    (BTW: 2nd time I've tried to post this. Fuck your stupid fucking unreadable captchas, slashdot.)

  • 2.2 Angriffsmittel und -methoden 15
    2.2.1 Spam 15
    2.2.2 Schadprogramme 16
    2.2.3 Drive-by-Exploits und Exploit-Kits 17
    2.2.4 Botnetze 18
    2.2.5 Social Engineering 19
    2.2.6 Identitätsdiebstahl 20
    2.2.7 Denial of Service 20
    2.2.8 Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) 21
    2.2.9 Nachrichtendienstliche Cyber-Angriffe 22

    I can understand Spam but Drive-by-Exploits? Social Engineering? Denial of Service???
    Surely there are German words for this? I mean 2

  • Shouldn't that be "NASA Emails a 'Socket Wrench' to the ISS"? The realness of the email is not in question. The realness of the wrench is.

    • I guess it depends if you see is as "The action of sending a physical object [via email]" or "The action of sending a [physical object] via email".

      You cannot send physical objects through email, but what was emailed was not a physical object either.

      • by Radak ( 126696 )

        but what was emailed was not a physical object either.

        Hence my pedantic preference for putting the quotes around the physical object.

  • by Livius ( 318358 ) on Sunday December 21, 2014 @09:20AM (#48646213)

    I'm surprised there isn't infringement - hasn't anyone got around to patenting 'using a socket wrench - in space'.

  • snark and terminal dissection? It's a first shot at something useful-ish. There's plenty of small parts on the ISS that could benefit from sooner-than-resupply-mission times.
  • In the same way that we have upped the standards of what "broadband" means, can we please up the standard of what "space" means to no longer include low-orbit? I'd like NASA to start referring to anything closer than the moon as "Above Earth". Anything farther than that they can call "space".

    Suddenly everyone would realize how ridiculous NASA is: "Why has it been 50 years and NASA still hasn't taken humans into space? Shouldn't we be going to space by now?"

    • I define space as 'high enough that anything with enough lateral velocity isn't coming down.'

      • Isn't that any place above the highest point on the planet? If you shoot a laser off of Mt Everest, the light "isn't coming down". You might want to consider a different definition.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday December 21, 2014 @12:55PM (#48647013)

    ISS: "Could you please e-mail us the instructions for a wrench?"

    Ground: "Please clarify. What kind of wrench do you need?"

    ISS: "It doesn't matter. We are going to use it as a hammer."

  • "One of the problems included a toolkit that included a wrench needed to install a nuclear warhead atop an ICBM. Only one of the toolkits remained available for three bases to maintain the fleet of 450 Minuteman ICBMs. Crews working on the missile fleet relied on Fed-Ex to deliver the copy of one wrench." http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/... [cbsnews.com]

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