The First 3D Printer is Being Sent into Space

A 3D printer is being sent to the International Space Station (ISS) by a collaborative team comprised of aerospace manufacturers, Made In Space, and Lowe's Innovation Labs. The 3D printer is expected to increase the operational capacity of the ISS.  

The Lowe’s 3D printer is expected to arrive at the ISS in early 2016

Naeblys | Shutterstock

The device will serve as a permanent manufacturing facility for the ISS, providing austronauts at the space station with the technology and tools they need to do their job. The ISS is expected to receive the 3D printer by early 2016 and as a result Lowe’s Innovation Lab will become the world’s first retailer to launch a 3D printer into space.

Meanwhile down here on Earth Lowe’s Innovation Labs are also introducing an advanced virtual reality design tool called Lowe’s Holoroom which allows you to design the room of your dreams.  

​Lowe’s and Made in Space share a vision of how 3D printing can revolutionize retail and home improvement, while also changing the way astronauts work in space. This is just the beginning of a broader partnership with Made in Space that will bring tools to space and new technology to Earth.

Kyle Nel - Lowe’s Innovation Labs

"For the first time, astronauts can now manufacture what they need, when they need it in space. We have successfully demonstrated the technology’s capabilities in space. And now with the launch of the permanent additive manufacturing facility to the ISS, we are enabling humanity to manufacture things off the planet.

Jason Dunn - Made in Space

A Next Generation Holoroom

The Lowe’s Holoroom was conceptually introduced in 2014. Now, following successful testing of improved versions in Toronto-based stores, the advanced Lowe’s Holoroom will be deployed in 19 stores across the US from next month onwards.

The Holoroom has made a transition from an augmented reality solution to an in-store and at-home virtual reality design and visualization tool. The holoroom uses Google Cardboard viewers, which users can take home, alongside Oculus Rift optic technology. Google has teamed up with Lowe’s Innovation Labs to create 360-degree video using the Google Cardboard viewers. This provides customers with an option to share and enjoy their virtual bathroom or kitchen design from anywhere in the world.

The next-generation Holoroom continues to fulfill our long-term vision for how augmented and virtual reality technologies can help customers have more confidence and more fun with home improvement," Nel said. "We can’t wait to see what our customers create as they bring their imagination to life with these new tools.

Kyle Nel - Lowe’s Innovation Labs

Lowe’s Innovation Labs was established in 2014, with the aim of designing and commercializing disruptive technologies by collaborating with exceptional companies. During their first year, they launched in-store and online 3D scanning and printing, the OSHbot autonomous retail service robot and the first-generation of Lowe’s Holoroom.

Jake Wilkinson

Written by

Jake Wilkinson

Jake graduated from the University of Manchester with an integrated masters in Chemistry with honours. Due to his two left hands the practical side of science never appealed to him, instead he focused his studies on the field of science communication. His degree, combined with his previous experience in the promotion and marketing of events, meant a career in science marketing was a no-brainer. In his spare time Jake enjoys keeping up with new music, reading anything he can get his hands on and going on the occasional run.

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