News: a 3D printer approved by NASA will be flown to the International Space Station next year so astronauts can print components, tools and equipment on-demand in space. Manufactured by Made in Space in collaboration with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the machine is the first 3D printer certified safe to withstand conditions of space travel and operate in microgravity conditions.Experiments were undertaken during four microgravity flights lasting two hours each. The finished printer will be flown to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2014, aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket."The printer is built specifically to handle the environmental challenges of space and uses extrusion additive manufacturing, which builds objects layer by layer out of polymers and other materials," said Made in Space.The device is not much larger than a shoebox and is totally enclosed. The exterior is made from metal and a glass front provides a view of the inside.The printer is estimated to be capable of building 30% of the spare parts on the space station as well as a range of speciality objects, tools and equipment upgrades. Hundreds of useful items will be able to be printed on demand, from clips, buckles and containers to replacements for broken or damaged accessories.