Here at 3D Rapid Print, one of the fastest growing 3D Printing companies in the Thames Valley, we like to keep abreast of the latest innovations in 3D printing.
On October 8th 2020, NASA announced that it had installed the International Space Station’s (ISS) newly upgraded urine processor assembly, which had been flown there in March and installed in September. Here, urine is boiled before being repeatedly filtered and chemically purified until it is usable by the crew, saving on the cost of transporting water from Earth. NASA claims that the distillation assembly helps the crew recycle 90% of the water they need onboard the ISS.
The system was developed for NASA during the 1990s, and has been continually refined ever since the ISS began housing rotating crews in the year 2000. However, engineers discovered that the ISS’s system suffered from deteriorating drive belts, mainly due to them being exposed to the steam from the urine distillation assembly. NASA’s engineers determined that they could 3D print a plastic-toothed drive pulley, delivering near-flight quality prototypes in less than 2 weeks. From there, they expanded the system upgrades to include a variety of internal part redesigns to mitigate the impact from the steam and other fluids.
NASA claimed that the distillation assembly could previously see parts fail after circa 1,400 hours of service. However, with the latest iteration of upgrades, engineers anticipate a service life of more than 4,300 hours without anything needing to be replaced. NASA proclaimed that the distillation assembly is operated for only a few hours each day, ergo they anticipate it lasting for potentially years.
3D printing is an amazing tool. It can grow your small business or start a mini revolution in an industry. Explore what it can do for you when you contact us today.
Disclaimer: Featured image of “Port Adelaide Sewers Treatment Works(GN09635)” has been dedicated to the public domain by its author under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.