September 01, 2021 #ChileDiverse #ChileGlobal

Chilean copper in space: Copper3D is awarded third NASA fund

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The fund will allow the Chilean company to test and manufacture recyclable and antimicrobial materials in space, research that seeks to facilitate long-duration space explorations.

Chilean industry is making waves when it comes to space exploration. This week, the Chilean startup Copper3D, a pioneer and global leader in antimicrobial materials and applications for the 3D printing industry, was awarded its third NASA research fund, which will be executed in collaboration with the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO), in the United States.

"Very soon we will be able to proudly say that Chilean antimicrobial copper has reached space and promises to be a key player in the future of space exploration," said Daniel Martinez, co-founder and Innovation Director of Copper3D, and part of Imagen de Chile's Chileans Creating the Future Network.

"Bacteria and viruses become more resistant in microgravity, which, added to the previous factor, makes space missions of more than six months in orbit very risky at the moment. In this context, it is of utmost importance to have materials, tools, medical devices and everyday objects with antimicrobial properties, which is precisely Copper3D's area of expertise," he added.

Copper3D, a company that today bears the Marca Chile seal, has several collaborations with NASA and UNO. In 2018 they were awarded a first fund to test this new technology of antimicrobial materials for 3D printing in microgravity (Zero-G), and in 2019 they were again selected to evaluate the feasibility of printing a set of medical devices in Zero-G conditions.

According to Martínez, space exploration today faces two major challenges, one of biological origin and the other logistical. On the one hand, evidence suggests that astronauts who must undergo long-term space missions suffer from a "deregulation of their immune system", which increases the risk of suffering from diseases, infections or disorders during their stay in space.

In logistical terms, space exploration involves solving another problem: available space. "3D printing technology would allow astronauts on these long space missions to manufacture their own spare parts, tools and medical devices completely on-demand. If we add to this the concept of circularity, that is, being able to make use of the same material several times, for different applications, and be subjected to several cycles of recycling and 3D re-manufacturing, without losing its antimicrobial properties, this would save a lot of weight, time, resupply missions and other logistical and medical complications, which would make these future space missions much more feasible and safer," says Daniel Martinez.


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