In a new Musk endeavour, rocket parts will be made with hand gesture technology and 3D printers
In a move that resembles something out of a sci-fi movie, Elon Musk describes in a video how SpaceX will build new rocket parts with hand and finger movements combined with a 3D laser metal printer. No desktops or keyboards in sight.
SpaceX is a private company founded by Musk in 2002; it designs, builds, and launches spacecrafts and rockets into low-Earth orbit.
The company’s goal is to one-day send humans into space so that they can live on other planets.
Other ideas pushed by Musk include the Tesla cars, and the Hyperloop transportation system.
"At SpaceX, we love to play with cutting-edge technology and are always looking for ways to turn science fiction into reality," theSpaceX YouTube video description reads. "It not only advances our work, but it’s also fun."
Using a bunch of different futuristic tools, like the Leap Motion Controller, Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, and 3D laser metal printer, Musk explains that SpaceX can design and build rocket parts with greater intuition and accuracy than those built using traditional techniques.
In the video, Musk shows how he uses the Leap Motion Controller to work on a design model of SpaceX’s Merlin rocket engine. The Leap Motion Controller is a motion-sensor for computers that tracks users hands in 3D space. Using just hand gestures in the air, Musk grabs, rotates, zooms in and out, and moves the Merlin engine around on a computer screen.
Leap Motion CEO Michael Buckwald is thrilled with the idea of his company’s technology being used for SpaceX initiatives.
"This is an incredibly exciting display of the Leap Motion’s ability to transform design and creation on computers," Buckwald told CNET. "This is definitely one of the categories we are most passionate about."
In the video, Musk explains that once the Merlin engine is ready to come out of the computer and into reality, SpaceX will use a special 3D laser metal printer. To build the actual engine prototype, the printer will lay down fine layers of titanium while a laser melts those titanium particles to previous layers.
"I believe we are on the verge of a major breakthrough in design and manufacturing in being able to take the concept of something from your mind, translate that into a 3D object really intuitively on the computer, and then take that virtual 3D object and be able to make it real just by printing it," Musk said in the video. "It’s going to revolutionize design and manufacturing in the 21st century."