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Ground Control To Major Tom: Lowe’s Readies For Liftoff

Lowe’s made a Kennedy-esque declaration last week when it said it intends to be the first retailer to send a commercial 3D printer into space.

Lowe’s Innovation Labs division has teamed with aerospace company Made in Space to bring a 3D printer to the International Space Station (ISS). The printer, which will enable astronauts to create on-demand tools and parts, is scheduled to arrive at the ISS early next year.

Made in Space also helped NASA bring its first 3D printer to the ISS last year; this new printer differs from that test model in several different ways. For one, the new printer will be controlled from Earth. Astronauts will only need to remove the printed parts and prepare the printer for the next print, a Lowe’s spokeswoman told TWICE. In addition to NASA, other nation’s space agencies and commercial entities will also be able to build items in space.

The new printer also has more functionality, enhanced accuracy and is engineered to outlive the life of the ISS.

Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs, noted: “This is just the beginning of a broader partnership with Made in Space that will bring tools to space and new technology to Earth.”

Accompanying the astral announcement was Lowe’s launch of its next-gen Holoroom virtual-reality design tool. First tested in a handful of Toronto stores last year, the augmented-reality experience will be expanded to 19 more U.S. stores next month.

Holoroom employs Oculus Rift optic technology, Google Cardboard viewers and YouTube’s 360-degree videos to create virtual and shareable kitchens or bathrooms.