If you’ve ever wondered what astronauts do in space, you wouldn’t be judged for not having “printing 2 reams (1000 pages) of paper per month” on your list. As it turns out, there is a real and valid need to print on paper in space; specifically on the International Space Station. Hardcopies are used for procedural and mission critical information like Emergency E-Books, inventory Return trajectories, timelines, and personal items, including letters and photographs from home.
Demonstrating their leader status in the industry once more, HP was selected by NASA to develop the “Next Generation Printer” replacing existing printing capabilities onboard the ISS.
You can imagine that building a printer that can operate in zero gravity is no easy task, and NASA had a long list of requirements that the printer needed in order to safely operate onboard the ISS including:
- Paper management in zero-G
- Flame retardant plastics*
- Waste ink management in zero-G
- Glass removal
- Wired and wireless connectivity
- Printing in multiple orientations (0⁰, 90⁰, 180⁰ & 270⁰ positions)
- Environmental Testing (EMI, Materials, Acoustics, Flammability*, Off-gassing, Power Compatibility, etc.)
ISS Next Generation Printer built with parts printed by Multi Jet Fusion
HP was able to deliver on these challenging requirements with help from their new HP Multi Jet Fusion printer which was utilized for 3D printing of parts for the ISS “Next Generation Printer”.
The new material “High Reusability PA 12 Glass Beads” was used to build the tray of the printer.