A company specializing in 3-D printers has sent a model of the head of talk show host and space enthusiast Stephen Colbert flying miles high above the Earth.
MakerBot Industries recently launched a bright green 3-D model of Colbert’s head attached to a weather balloon into space and used it to capture stunning images of the planet below.
3-D printers allow items to be built layer by layer, similar to how a conventional printer lays ink on paper. The objects are made with thin layers of "feedstock," which can be metal, plastic or a variety of other materials.
MakerBot used a FlipCam – which was attached to a box contraption that was then pulled up by the weather balloon – to take video of the event. After the weather balloon popped, it sent the box back down to Earth, whichlanded miles away from the departure site.
MakerBot tracked the contraption via a GPS chip in a cell phone that was also included in the box.
Recently, 3-D printed objects have been garnering the interest of the space industry. In fact, a company called Made in Space recently completed a successful testing period of two 3-D printers on multiple NASA flights, with a scaled-down wrench becoming the first-ever tool printed in partial zero gravity.
Printing out parts in space could eventually be transplanted to other worlds such as the moon, where it could help human colonies gain a foothold by printing out robot parts or buildings, piece by piece.
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