The European Space Agency (ESA) has successfully 3D printed a full scale and one-tenth scale replica of an actual Extravehicular Activity (EVA) glove worn by astronaut Hans Schlegel. According to ESA:
These recreations were produced through fused deposition modelling of thermoplastic material at ESA’s technology centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
The gloves are an example of additive manufacturing, used routinely at ESA, with melted thermoplastic laid down layer by layer by a movable printing head, guided by a computer model.
Spacesuit gloves are highly complex constructions whose performance is vital to effective and safe astronaut EVAs. ESA’s replicas demonstrate the capability to quickly produce design models for study, but it is unlikely they will be usable for actual spacewalks at this stage.
Image caption: 3D-printed replicas of Hans Schlegel’s EVA glove in full and one-tenth scale (Credits: ESA).