NASA's astronauts have reportedly installed the first combined 3D printer and plastics recycling system aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The device, called Refabricator, was developed by Tethers Unlimited and will allow astronauts not only 3D printing in space, but also the recycling and reuse of plastic materials.
Refurbished was developed by Tethers Unlimited, a private aerospace company located near Seattle, Washington, in close collaboration with the NASA Space Flight Program at Marshall Space Flight Center. The project, which has been running for a while, ended with a launch in November last year, bringing the plastics recycling machine to the ISS. According to reports, the device arrived safely and is now installed on board the space station.
The device combines a plastics and a 3D printer recycling system into a mini-refrigerator-sized machine and enables astronauts to transform plastic waste into 3D printing, which can then be used to produce new parts, including medical instruments. , cutlery, and other items they may need. The device marks an important step towards sustainability in space, where resources are minimal (due to the high costs of introducing cargo into space).
Although Refabricator is widely tested at NASA's Space Center, the hybrid machine will undergo more tests and experiments on the ISS. These tests will begin in the next few weeks after the machine is fully tested. Once finished, recycling and 3D printing can begin!
On board the ISS, Tethers Unlimited & Refabricator is expected to offer a number of benefits, including reduced mission costs (due to the ability to reconstruct plastic waste), minimize logistics and waste management challenges and improve the resilience of missions.
"Refabricator is a key factor in demonstrating a sustainable model for manufacturing, recycling, and re-using parts and waste from expanded space missions," said Nikki Verkeyser, NASA's space production manager at Huntsville, Alabama.
Join Refabricator Made in spaceFor production of additives on board ISS.