A major evolvement has been witnessed in the recycling of plastic throughout the years. The recycling of HDPE and PET containers has displayed the development of recycling. And now, NASA plans to introduce plastic recycling in space. This will offer an extra step of sufficiency to the onboard astronauts combined with 3D printing technology.
The present situation demands NASA to send cargo rockets to space in every few months costing them a lot of money. The cargo for foodstuffs is of course, unavoidable. However, the equipment costs can be curbed down if NASA only sends the basic 3D printing material.
NASA is introducing ‘Refabricator’, a device which will take in the plastic waste of any shape and size and transform them to a feedstock which will be used for 3D print articles. As stated by NASA, it is a single automatic machine which looks somewhat like a regular sized refrigerator. The method of 3D plastic printing is by ejecting molten plastic through a printer. This plastic is then headed to build an object in a horizontal layer. This machine fulfills the challenge to work in zero-gravity.
How does it help?
This will help astronauts to recycle or manufacture utensils that can be used for their meals. The waste can be turned in to feedstock that will help them build future space systems. Basically, the process turns the waste into filaments that are used in the Refabricator which will print them into replacements parts, new satellite components or tools that can be used by the astronauts for their research.
What does it offer?
This technology will not only save NASA from the high expenses but also reduce the risks for private space missions. The Refabricator is the first integrated recycler and manufacturer of its kind. According to NASA, the Refabricatortakes into consideration the challenges associated with the operations on the ISS and future missions in space. This includes mass and volume constraints, microgravity, limitation on direct human interaction and safety requirements.