HP INC has revealed details of a custom designed printer for use in zero-gravity.
The HP OfficeJet 5740 was adapted to become the HP ENVY Zero-Gravity Printer and is now about to be deployed on the International Space Station (ISS).
In order to make it work, the 5740 needed to be adapted to cover Zero-G paper management, Zero-G Ink management, be built with flame retardant plastics, allow the glass to be easily replaceable, pass the strict environmental tests for the ISS - EMI, Materials, Acoustics, Flammability, Off-gassing, Power Compatibility and so forth, and perhaps most important of all, be able to print in any orientation - 0 degrees, round to 270 degrees.
Working with NASA's requirements, HP manufactured especially 3D printed parts to create the zero-g printer.
"Through the creative ingenuity of HP's SPS team and access to HP's MultiJet Fusion 3D printing technology, we were able to design and produce complex parts that ensured the HP ENVY Zero-Gravity Printer successfully met all of NASA's requirements." enthused Enrique Lores, President, Imaging & Printing Business HP Inc.
It will be deployed to the ISS on the Elon Musk's Space-X Dragon C16 rocket and part of Space X mission CRS-14, due for launch in February 2018.
Although you wouldn't think it, ISS crew members actually still use a lot of paper. In fact, about two reams of it a month. They keep mission-critical data and procedural information in hard copy - Emergency e-books, inventory Return trajectories, timelines and so on. They also use them for personal items such as letters and photographs from home.
As you can see in the picture, the Zero Gravity printer uses a standard set of HP cartridges (though we imagine they're filled to the brim to save waste).
The company has already begun deploying 120 HP ZBook Workstations to the ISS too. They'll be used "to support its mission operations and utilization objectives including sparing".
In 2013, NASA migrated from Windows to Linux for the ISS. We're not clear on what is going up on these new machines.
HP even gets its own mission patch. Look!
INQ has been given exclusive rights to the launch and will be flying to the ISS to see the devices be… Oh, who are we trying to kid? µ
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