The printed spanner

That's how it looks like: The first ever in zeroG printed spanner made of metallic powder

Source: BAM, Section Corporate Communications

BAM, Clausthal University of Technology (CUT) and the Institute of Composte Structures and Adaptive Systems of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) will test their innovative 3D printing process for the aerospace industry during DLR’s 31st parabolic flight campaign. The flights will start on March the 5th.

The team is: Dr.-Ing. Thomas Mühler from CUT; Marc Sparenberg from the DLR Institute of Composte Structures and Adaptive Systems and the BAM scientists Gunther Mohr from the Welding Technologie division as well as Jörg Lüchtenborg, Dr. Andrea Zocca und Prof. Dr. Jens Günster from the Ceramic Processing and Biomaterials division.

The goal of the experiments is to show that astronauts could make their own tools or spare parts during their space mission by using 3D printing technology. This time, for the first time, the team will use metallic powders in zero gravity.

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The team of six scientists

Ready for take-off: The scientists are prepared for the second parabolic flight. The team is (from left to right): Dr.-Ing. Thomas Mühler, Clausthal University of Technology (CUT); Dr. Andrea Zocca, BAM; Marc Sparenberg, DLR Institute of Composte Structures and Adaptive Systems; Gunther Mohr, BAM; Jörg Lüchtenborg, BAM and Prof. Dr. Jens Günster, BAM/TU Clausthal

Source: BAM, Section Corporate Communications

Prof. Dr. Jens Günster, head of the Ceramic Processing and Biomaterials division and professor in high-performance ceramics at CUT, summarized the upcoming experiments for us:

"We are using a brand new layering technology. But this technology first needs to prove itself and show that it can be used for the application of powder layers under zero gravity conditions. And for the first time, we want to use metallic materials in our tests. In the end I hope we will be able to print a usable component. We would like to take home a small spanner from the campaign."

Prof. Jens Günster is checking the machine

Last check before departure. This time the team will use metallic powders in zero gravity.

Source: BAM

You can also read more about the project in an interview with Prof. Günster here: The "Powder-based additive manufacture under weightlessness" project produces components by applying layers of a flowable powder using 3 D printing...


Parabolic flights are used for scientific tests in microgravity and for testing space techniques. A DLR parabolic flight campaign usually consists of three flight days, each with four flight hours and 31 parabolas being flown in each. In parabolic flights, an aircraft rises steeply from the horizontal flight, throttles the thrust of the turbines and flies a parabola where weightlessness prevails for about 22 seconds. In total, approximately 35 minutes of weightlessness are available in a flight campaign – alternating with normal and double acceleration due to gravity, which researchers can use for their tests. Up to 40 scientists can participate in a flight, where generally 12 to 13 on-board experiments take place.