May 13, 2014

NASA is considering recycling plastic for 3D printing on the International Space Station

Posted by in category: 3D printing

By — GigOm
A mock up of the SpiderFab system. Courtesy of Tethers Unlimited
When NASA sends a 3D printer to the International Space Station, it will dramatically improve the crew’s ability to fix unforeseen problems like broken parts and supply shortages. It will also reduce how much mass needs to be carried into space; instead of having a spare copy of everything, astronauts can just print parts as they are needed.

NASA is considering taking that reduction in material one step further by putting a plastic recycler on the ISS. The Made in Space printer that will board the ISS later this year prints in ABS plastic, which is the same type used in Legos and other common items. A recycler would allow the ISS crew to turn broken parts and other unneeded items back into the raw material on which the printer relies.

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