3D printer from NASA will turn plastic waste into tools directly into orbit

3D printers are used almost everywhere. But anyone who at least superficially familiar with the technology of 3D printing knows that as raw materials they use are quite specific materials. However, NASA engineers have created a very interesting device that can print the plastic components from the waste. Moreover, the printer is already on the ISS and is the first field (although in this case the best fit word cosmic) tests.

Just recently, automatic cargo space supply ship Cygnus, developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation, has docked with the ISS, bringing 7400 lbs (about 3.3 tonnes) mixed food and research equipment. Among them was a new development by engineers of NASA and Tethers Unlimited team called Refabricator.

Refabricator is the first universal printer for three-dimensional printing working on plastic waste. The astronautsat the ISS, unable to load in Refabricator any unnecessary plastic items, he will melt and converts into a plastic fiber, suitable for the creation of instruments of various components for equipment, repairing equipment and so on. Naturally, the resulting parts can be recycled repeatedly.

The ongoing experiment is very important, because in case of success, first, you can reduce the quantity of Earth materials, freeing up space for another payload or reducing the cost of flying by reducing the total weight. And secondly, Refabricator and similar devices can be useful not only to the ISS but also in other long-term space missions like missions to the moon or Mars. Moreover, over time, “Defabricator” can be used on the Ground, reducing the amount of plastic waste that humanity produces every day.

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