3D Printing on Earth and in Space

3D printing has proven to be a game-changer in space exploration and has revolutionized the way astronauts and space agencies approach problems in space. With 3D printing, it is possible to produce complex components and parts on demand, reducing the need for large inventories and saving space and weight on spacecraft. It also enables the production of spare parts, tools, and replacement parts on-demand, reducing the need for expensive and time-consuming resupply missions. Moreover, 3D printing enables the creation of custom-fit components that are optimized for the specific conditions of space, such as temperature fluctuations, vacuum, and radiation.



The underlying physics of 3D printing in zero-gravity is, however, poorly understood. There are many open questions on how filament dynamics change when the gravitational body force does not exist. These questions are exactly what we aim to tackle in this project.

We are looking for 1 or 2 masters students to work on

  • Theory of 3D printed filaments under zero gravity

  • Experimental study of filament deposition in 3D printing under zero gravity


Your Research

Supported by the European Space Agency, you will work with an international team from the German Aerospace Society (DLR), Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg, and University of Amsterdam. In the experimental project, you will first use and further develop the previously designed experimental tools to study the filaments welding in various conditions and then design and test the next generation of model 3D printers for zero-gravity testing. In the theory project, you will use our unique computational platform to study the dynamics of filaments spreading and welding under various gravitational conditions. To this end, you will use a continuum description of materials with highly nonlinear mechanical properties.


Methods involved

Experiments: Optical Coherence Tomography, Interferometry, Rheology of soft materials

Theory: Computational Hydrodynamics to solve elastoviscoplasticity