Refabricator to Recycle, Reuse Plastic Installed on Space Station
Posted on February 11, 2019
The first integrated recycler and 3D printer was successfully installed onboard the International Space Station into the station’s experiment racks. This technology demonstration, called a Refabricator, will turn plastic materials of various sizes and shapes into feedstock used to 3D print items. The entire process happens in a single automated machine about the size of a mini refrigerator. See the related ScienceCast episode here.
“The Refabricator is key in demonstrating a sustainable model to fabricate, recycle and reuse parts and waste materials on extended space exploration missions,” said Niki Werkheiser, manager of in-space manufacturing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The Refabricator was developed and built by Tethers Unlimited, Inc. for NASA’s in-space manufacturing project at Marshall with funding from NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.
Experiment operations on the space station will begin soon.