Asteroid mining company Planetary Resources and 3D Systems have displayed an additively manufactured object made out of metal sourced from a meteorite.
Endgadget reports that the metal used as a feedstock was taken from an asteroid that landed in Argentina in prehistoric times. It was extracted using a plasma that condenses metallic powder from the meteorite, which is then extracted from a vacuum system.
Planetary Resources aims to “develop cost-effective space exploration technologies, mine near-earth asteroids and expand humanity's resource base.” It CEO Nick Lewicki believes that if space exploration is going to progress in a meaningful way, then manufacturing and building in space need to be mastered.
"There are billions and billions of tons of this material in space," Lewicki said, according to Endgadget.
"Everyone has probably seen an iron meteorite in a museum, now we have the tech to take that material and print it in a metal printer using high energy laser. Imagine if we could do that in space."
The object displayed was made using a 3D Systems ProX DMP 320 printer, and is modeled on the Arkyd spacecraft. It was displayed at this week's CES show in Las Vegas.