I am reading Medium.com's 3D Printing Is Going to Space and Made In Space is doing something very cool.
However, the point of failure in a system like this seems to be the polymer strut itself - how long would a centimeter-wide polymer strut maintain structural integrity in orbit?
EDIT: Or will material fatigue from changes in temperature break the strut first?
But now, outer space manufacturing is about to become a reality, albeit at a much smaller scale than the Death Star. The real-life Florida startup Made in Space recently won a $73.7 million contract from NASA to use, over the next three years, what’s essentially an advanced space-grade 3D printer to print out wings for a spacecraft while it orbits Earth.
Both of those links are informative.
Now Made in Space plans to take the success of that very same technology and run a variation of it outside of the space station—in the even more inhospitable vacuum of space, on the side of the free-flying Archinaut One spacecraft. After decoupling from the Rocket Lab rocket, the Archinaut One will enter low-earth orbit (LEO to space industry folks, defined by NASA as the first 100 to 200 miles of space above Earth’s surface) and begin circling our home planet more than 11 times per day. A few days later, the Archinaut One will conduct the historic, first-ever free-flying additive manufacturing demonstration in space, using a spool of polymer filament to print two 32-foot-long (64 feet total) semirigid beams extending from either side of the spacecraft.
The beams will be much larger than those the Archinaut One could otherwise support if it were relying on traditional space assembly methods, such as bringing them folded up into space from Earth, and will be used to act as a kind of scaffolding for long solar arrays that extend outward. “Like Venetian blinds,” according to Kugler.