NASA's 3D printer was developed under a contract with the startup Made In Space, which was founded in 2010. The aim is to experiment with the possibility of manufacturing crucial replacement parts on the station, rather than having to ship them in via rocket.
The printer was delivered to the space station in September via a Space X Dragon capsule. It was installed on the station on November 17, and a number of calibration prints followed over the next few days.
Last week the first actual part was manufactured by the 3D-printer. It's a faceplate for a printhead extruder on the printer itself, pictured.
Teams at NASA and Made In Space are now looking at data from the part to see how it conforms to expectations.
"This first print is the initial step toward providing an on-demand machine shop capability away from Earth," said NASA's Niki Werkheiser, project manager.
Made In Space is now working on a new model, which is expected to be delivered to the ISS in early 2015.