MIR: the 3D printed Space Station

15 years ago (the 23rd of February 2001) the adventure of the Russian space station MIR came to an end. That was the end of the adventure of the first long time human settlement in the outer space that had operated for 15 years then. It was the 29th of February 1986 when Russia (at that time still the USSR) had started to assemble the first modules of the space station MIR (Russian word standing for both “world” and “peace”). Eventually, the financial effort for the maintenance of MIR and, at the same time, the new International Space Station ISS made the Russian space agency take the decision to put the old MIR out of service (october 23rd, 2000).

Then here come JellyModels and a young Milanese dreamer with the project to make an exact 1:15 scale copy of the space station MIR. The commitment was to make an architecture model of the space station using the modern technologies of additive manufacturing (i.e. 3D printing). To make such a big model it was clearly necessary to subdivide the space station into its basic modules and study a coupling system to assemble the modules into their correct position. Furthermore, in order to print the biggest modules, we had to subdivide them again into more parts. To print the single pieces we used printers of a technology called FFF (fused filament fabrication) or FDM (fused deposition modeling). This is quite a diffused technology but, since we are talking of big volume parts, there are not so many printers capable to carry out this work. In addition, the bigger is the part to be printed the bigger is the risk of waste and the longer is the necessary printing time. Eventually, we must say that drawing a good 3D model and tuning the printing file are not activities within everyone’s means.

To show the outcome of this job we prepared a gallery of pictures. Thanks to the photographer, Dino Bertoli, and thanks to Salvatore Saldano, manager at FabLab Milano for the support during the development and printing of the space station MIR. Actually, we eventually made two space station models: one in black colour and one in white colour!


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