Home Industry Tethers Unlimited Recycles Space Waste into 3D Printer Filament

Tethers Unlimited Recycles Space Waste into 3D Printer Filament

NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program has selected Tethers Unlimited (TUI) to develop a recycling system for the International Space Station. The “Positrusion” recycler, a patent-pending system, will convert plastic waste into high-quality 3D printer filament for use in making tools, replacement parts, and satellite components onboard the ISS.

“Positrusion is a new approach to making 3D printer feedstock that produces filament with much more consistent diameter and density than traditional extrusion processes,” said Jesse Cushing, TUI’s Principal Investigator for the Positrusion effort. “That consistency will improve the quality of tools and other parts produced by 3D printers on the station.”

TUI also sees significant potential for use of the Positrusion system in recycling plastic waste in the consumer market. “For a recycler to be useful on the ISS, it has to meet stringent safety requirements, and its design needs to minimize the amount of time an astronaut must spend operating it,” said Jeffrey Slostad, TUI’s Chief Engineer. “So we designed the Positrusion recycler to be as safe and simple to operate as a microwave oven, and we believe a consumer version of this machine will be ideal for recycling household and office waste.”

(C) Tethers Unlimited, Inc.


Tethers Unlimited, Inc. develops transformative technologies for Space and Defense missions. Its technology portfolio includes advanced space propulsion systems, frequency-agile software defined radios for small satellites, and systems for in-space additive manufacturing of spacecraft components.

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