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Choosing the right 3D printer among the various alternatives may at first seem like a daunting task. There are significant differences in how each printing technology turns digital data into a solid object. Today’s 3D printers can use a variety of materials with vast differences in mechanical properties, feature definition, surface finish, environmental resistance, visual appearance, accuracy and precision, useful life, thermal properties and more.
3D printing, also known as Additive Manufacturing, it is a term that refers to the wide range of technologies, where an item is built up in layers starting from a digital 3D file.
3D printing is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing which is cutting out / hollowing out a piece of metal or plastic with for instance a milling machine.
"This first print is the initial step toward providing an on-demand machine shop capability away from Earth," said Niki Werkheiser, project manager for the International Space Station 3-D Printer at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. "The space station is the only laboratory where we can fully test this technology in space.”