Portable Solar Power 3D Printer & 3D Printed Surgical Tools

What kind of medical supplies will be needed on a Mars mission? If you can’t take everything with you, then you’ll have to 3D print them on demand. Dr Susan Jewell MD, Founder/President, MarsWithoutBorders, MWOB, and Commander of MWOB Expedition One Crew 145, 151 and 158 and Principal Investigator of the 3D Printing of Surgical tools for training non-medical and minimally-trained medical crew teams during the missions. Matteo Borri, Crew Engineer and CEO, Robots-Everywhere, LLC, created, designed and developed a portable solar powered 3D Printer with laser cutter  He also 3D printed instruments and surgical tools  which were successfully beta-tested in the simulation telesurgery training study during the expeditions.

3D Printing of Surgical Tools in Telesurgery Training for non-medical astronaut crews



This integrated and portable solar powered 3D printer with laser cutter system ( Doc-in-a-Bpx”, was tested and optimized for analog missions in extreme environments on Earth and during deep space missions and off-world planetary expeditions and has potential for applications, such as, disaster and emergency situations where here is limited or restricted access to resources, medical care and energy power due to natural disaster, war or during isolation from contact and communications with mission control and Earth.

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The Portable solar powered 3D printer and laser cutter system was designed for remote and isolated extreme environments in space and on Earth. Initial testing of 3D printing of surgical tools was successfully conducted in the laboratory setting. The integrated portable system will be tested in various Martian analog environments, eg, the upcoming MarsWithoutBorders Martian Mission Crew 158 at the Mars desert research Station, MDRS, the current yearlong Mars analog mission remote, high elevations of volcano in Hawaii,, the NASA HISEAS Mission IV  and a proposed project, NEAMAE ( Nepal Everest, Arctic, Antarctic Mars Analog Expeditions), a current finalist in the ROLEX Enterprise Award competition. Comparative analysis of the data collected from the various  missions will be done in post-missions and allow the crews to test the portable system in different “field settings” and in various environments that will simulate a “martian” analog in terms of environmental conditions, ie, temperature, solar energy capture fidelity, altitude, climatic variations,, humidity including human factors and performance in operations and resulting psychological outcomes due to physical stress, fatigue, and knowledge and skill sets of the crew and teams.  The crews will also test the portable system as a vital and important component part of an integrated emergency and disaster medicine paradigm scenario which will incorporated testing viability of use of the system during search and rescue and in the field, on-site “tele-triage” and telesurgey-teleanesthesia protocols and modification of emergency and disaster procedures.for astronauts living and working in off-world planetary surfaces on Moon or Mars.




Read article published on 3DPrint.com:

Solar Powered 3D Printers on Mars? Researchers Successfully Test Feasibility of Printing Surgical Tools on Red Planet

3d printed surgica toolsRead the article published on 3DPrint.com about the use of 3D printing technology on analog “Mars” and the research in telesurgery training of non-medically trained analog astronauts using 3D printed surgical tools.


The work was conducted under MarsWithoutBorders, MWOB, organization by Founder /Commander Expedition 1, Crew145, and Principal Investigator, Dr Susan Jewell, and Crew Engineer, Matteo Borri (CEO of Robots-Everywhere,LLC)


Testing feasibility in the use of 3D Printing Technology and testing 3D Printed surgical tools for telesurgery training in a Mars Analog Simulation with MarsWithoutBorders, MWOB,  at Mars Desert Research Station. MDRS

To date, there has been little study in the use of telesurgery and innovative technologies, such as, 3D printed medical and surgical tools in an integrated approach to Search and Rescue (SAR) and onsite telesurgery and medical emergency,  medical tele-triage during operational protocols and procedures during isolation and confinement in extreme environments on Earth or during Exploration Space Missions. Additionally, there has been very little research in using innovative technologies with the expanding telemedicine platform in training non-surgical, non-medical crews in extreme environments for space medicine.

Susan Jewell MD was Commander Crew 145 and the Lead Investigator  in several  MWOB Expedition One  mission objectives:    to conduct several Medical Extra Vehicular Activity (MEVA), develop and train crews in medical triage and evacuation on a simulated planetary Martian surface located at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in the remote high deserts of Utah. The project also looked at feasibility and viability to integrate 3D printing technology during a Mars analog simulation and to use this technology to train non-medical teams in telesurgery and simple surgery techniques.  Matteo Borri, MWOB Crew Engineer, who designed the 3D printed  surgical tools,  participated in the surgery training protocols incorporating 3D Printing technology into the simulations.


Dr Susan Jewell testing simulation Medical Extra Vehicular Activity, MEVA procedures and training for future planetary surface missions and integrating 3D printing technology into telesurgery simulation training.

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Image Credit: Susan Jewell / MWOB. Search and Rescue of the injured “dummy” astronaut and evacuation back to Hab in preparation for telesurgery.

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Images Credit: Susan Jewell /MWOB.  Left Image: Igor the “injured dummy” astronaut bought into the Hab by the team and preparing for telesurgery. Right: Dr Susan Jewell testing the 3D printed tools during a telesurgery simulation on Igor, the injured “dummy” astronaut” in the lower deck laboratory area of the Hab at the MDRS station.

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Images Credit: Susan Jewell / Matteo Borri Left: Showing the 3D printed scalpel handle and the 3D printed “Raptor Claw” to assist in the simulation surgical training  Right:  Design of the Raptor Claw (optimized – post-mission)

3D Printing on Analog Mars Simulation

A consumer-grade 3D printer was adapted to run on solar power using small solar cell panels tp stay within the restricted electricity budget.  The 3D printer was used in testing multiple uses and also converted to function as a solar powered 3D printer, a design developed by Matteo Borri Crew 145 Crew Engineer. It was subsequently used to print dental tools for another project.

Crew engineer, Matteo, used the 3D printer to  design a prototype scalpel blade handle and several prototype “parts” for fixing  life support systems. We successfully demonstrated it was feasible to 3D print tools and supplies on demand and in real-time – an important factor for astronauts living in isolation and confinement during space missions.


Image Credit: Susan Jewell /MWOB.  Demonstrating 3D printing on demand and real-time. Here Crew Engineer is using the printer to 3D printing an elbow joint whic was used to fix  the  astronaut’s broken EVA pack: an important component needed for supporting the life support system


Image Credit: Susan Jewell  /MWOB. Crew members preparing to decompress in the airlock before exiting the Hab to conduct an EVA. ( Extra Vehicular Activity)

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