HP Custom-Designs Zero-Gravity Printer for International Space Station
It turns out that not only do office workers still need to print, but so do astronauts. And what better way to print than with a handy desktop inkjet printer? The problem of course is no gravity, something HP Inc. had to tackle when NASA contacted it to design a printer to replace an existing printer installed at the International Space Station (ISS). The result is the HP Envy ISS Zero-Gravity Printer.
HP says that while the bulk of the HP ENVY ISS Zero-Gravity printer’s components are off-the-shelf, NASA had a list of requirements that the printer required in order to safely operate on-board the ISS, including:
- Paper-management in zero-gravity.
- Flame-retardant plastics.
- Waste -ink management in zero-gravity.
- Glass removal.
- Wired and wireless connectivity.
- Being able to print in multiple orientations (0⁰, 90⁰.180⁰ and 270⁰ positions).
- Environmental testing (EMI, materials, acoustics, flammability, off-gassing, power compatibility, etc.)
HP says that the zero-gravity requirements were the most challenging to meet and verify due to their unique nature. Through creative re-engineering of an HP Envy inkjet printer, and the use of specialized materials, as well as 3D-printed components, it says that the ENVY Zero-Gravity Printer successfully met all of NASA’s requirements.
HP also says that the ISS Crew members print on about two reams of paper a month in total across all printers. Printed documents are used for procedural and mission-critical information such as Emergency E-Books, inventory return trajectories, timelines, and personal items, including letters and photographs from home.
The HP ENVY Zero-Gravity Printers are currently scheduled to launch to the ISS on the Space-X 14 rocket.
Last year, NASA also began deploying HP ZBook Workstations to the International Space Station, with approximately 120 ZBooks in total set to be deployed.
The International Space Station Partnership consists of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), CSA (Canadian Space Agency), ESA (European Space Agency), JAXA (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency), and the RSA (Russian Federal Space Agency). This includes 15 countries: Canada, Japan, Russia, United States, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
But, but is it Instant Ink capable?