Supporting NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) and the MSFC, this project's technologies directly address requirements for solutions to recycling on-board plastics materials into 3-D printable formats for low-earth orbit and space flight additive manufacturing systems. This project's technologies offer a means to take on-board non-critical plastics, such as packaging materials, and reclaim these objects for 3-D printing of needed custom parts without requiring an additional mission payload of 3-D printing feedstock.
Department of Defense systems would derive benefits from this technology, including rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing of complex, low-run number, and advanced design parts. Prime defense contractors could find use of an enabling technology allowing 3-D printing of new and exotic polymeric materials or polymeric composites previously thought incompatible to FDM-type processing. Human systems focused solutions would have the ability to additively manufacture custom components for personnel equipment, such as softer elastomeric materials for integral user-custom equipment. This technology's attributes for improving the compatibility of polymers to 3-D printing systems would yield a high potential for private sector commercialization for 3-D printer manufactures, significantly increasing the materials properties available in the feedstock. Such companies could dramatically expand the thermoplastic raw materials available to consumers, and potentially be able to produce materials with custom mechanical performance on-demand.