NASA ODME Advanced Toolplate

PI: Curtis Hill, NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA’s On-Demand Manufacturing of Electronics (ODME) Advanced Toolplate is a key component of the ODME system for in-space manufacturing of flexible, hybrid electronics and sensors for structural and crew monitoring systems. The Advanced Toolplate has swappable, miniaturized toolheads, providing advanced deposition and processing capabilities to enable the in-orbit fabrication of complex electronic devices and sensors. The Advanced Toolplate will also benefit the On-Demand Manufacturing of Metals (ODMM) project for multi-materials 3D printing via a fabrication laboratory (FabLab).

Technology Areas (?)
  • NA
Problem Statement

Given the costs and logistics associated with maintaining an inventory of electronics and sensors in space, their in-situ, on-demand fabrication is essential for environmental, structural, and crew health monitoring during space station operations as well as future lunar and exploration missions. The Advanced Toolplate offers eight swappable toolheads for 3D printing complex, multilayer flexible electronics. In addition to ODME, this innovation is designed to be used with the ODMM project’s FabLab custom-designed nScrypt multi-material printer, enabling the creation of electronics and metals with a single printer. In addition, because its toolheads can be swapped out, the Advanced Toolplate can be easily updated as new deposition systems become available. During the parabolic flights, the ODME team will test the microgravity functionality of a direct-write extrusion print head, mill, and pick-and-place component.

Technology Maturation

Relevant environment testing of the Advanced Toolplate on parabolic flights will reduce the risk of introducing the FabLab’s 3D-printing capability on the International Space Station, where a demonstration is expected for 2024–2025. Specifically, microgravity flight testing will allow ODME to evaluate different electronic ink deposition systems and processing methods, advancing the technology readiness level (TRL) to TRL 6 and significantly mitigating operational risk.

Future Customers

• International Space Station (demonstration expected in 2024–2025) • Commercial in-space manufacturing • Lunar missions • Long-duration NASA or commercial missions

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 0 Parabolic

Development Team

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