Purdue University Graduate School

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posted on 2024-06-04, 14:22 authored by Albert john Patrick IVAlbert john Patrick IV


Additive manufacturing (or 3D printing) is one of the manufacturing processes which is currently being explored for its applicability under space boundary conditions, also known as in-space manufacturing. The space boundary conditions specifically affect material properties which in turn affect the printability of materials in space. Printing of soft materials in space is a novel application and the intent of this research was to print the softest of materials: edible materials, as a case study. 3D food printing is a novel food delivery method of using food products to either reproduce as a more aesthetically pleasing product or to print more nutrient-diverse foods. Launch of payload carrier and the boundary conditions of low Earth orbit including a vacuum environment, microgravity, temperature fluctuations, etc. These conditions make printing difficult, and my thesis is to overcome the boundary conditions (except microgravity) using a 3D soft material printer operating within a CubeSat. A CubeSat is a small satellite usually launched as an auxiliary payload used for basic Earth observation and radio communication. The printer must be able to survive launch and operation conditions, print within a simulated space environment, and adhere to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) specific definition of additive manufacturing. The 3D soft material printer was designed, fabricated, and tested using space and CubeSat boundary conditions for determining optimal design. Testing conditions including: (1) printing under Earth conditions showing it follows ASTM standards, (2) surviving NASA standards for vibration testing for microsatellites under launch conditions, (3) completing a print under a vacuum setting. The results of the testing would prove a small microsatellite could print in the vacuum of space and survive launch parameters. Further work would provide insight into the design of food printers being readily available in smaller sizes and its operability in microgravity condition. 


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Mechanical Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Ajay P. Malshe

Additional Committee Member 2

Tahira Reid

Additional Committee Member 3

Michael Sealy

Additional Committee Member 4

James Gibert