Spoiler alert: Netflix’s take on Lost in Space is fantastic. It is mostly family friendly, pays homage to the classic 1960s series in a fantastic way, and is one of the shows that have captivated me from start to finish. I will confess, I binged it in less than 48 hours. But because 3D printing is such a big part of my world, what I love the most is how they portray 3D printing in Lost in Space in an incredibly accurate way.

 The 3D model of a leg brace, 3D printed after an injury aboard the Jupiter 2.

The 3D model of a leg brace, 3D printed after an injury aboard the Jupiter 2.

More realistic than a replicator from Star Trek, the 3D printer aboard the Jupiter 2 is precisely what one may expect to see on future space missions. What Lost in Space gets right is that 3D printing isn’t instant. It doesn’t instantly materialize when you’re in a crunch or craving tea, Earl Grey, hot. The print isn’t perfect off the plate, and even includes attached support structures on the show.

 Notice the support structures below the brace.

Notice the support structures below the brace.

In fact, the viewer is given a very real glimpse into how 3D printing works from start to finish. First, a 3D model file must either exist or be created and scaling or measurements must be taken into account for something like, say, a leg brace. Second, there may be restrictions to printing certain objects already embedded in the computer or on a zip drive, similar to current laws prohibiting the sale of 3D printed weapons. Lastly, it can take over an hour for an 11/16 torque wrench to print when you only have 15 minutes before the space eels consume all of your fuel. 

  Danger Will Robinson!

Danger Will Robinson!

And while the writers take a bit of creative interpretation on where 3D printing will be in 30 years, space certainly isn’t out of the question. It is already a very real thing. As you may or may not be aware, there are at least two 3D printers aboard the International Space Station to test the applications of 3D printing in space. Having a 3D printer clearly has benefits when you find yourself lost in space. From medical applications to defense to tools, it only makes sense to bring along the one thing that allows you to 3D print your way out of a tough situation. You can literally 3D print your way across the galaxy.

 We still aren't using the metric system in the future.

We still aren't using the metric system in the future.

The applications are virtually endless. Using 3D printers, future interstellar colonists can repair damaged starships by recycling waste materials, or use large scale printers to create 3D printed homes and 3D printed vehicles for use on a distant planet or celestial body. They have the potential to create 3D printed replacement organs, or 3D print foods like a cheeseburger or chocolate. Replacement circuitry or electronics could also be 3D printed as materials and processes become more intricate and applications become more robust.

Space may be the final frontier, but it is just the beginning for 3D printing. Kudos to Netflix for introducing a science fiction television show with a very honest portrayal of the technology. I look forward to watching it again, and 3D printing Lost in Space props to add to my collection.

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Which Lost in Space prop or replica would you like to have? Contact me at Brian@Futurescape3D.com for a quote!

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