Sep 11, 2015 | By Kira

Decades ago, both the idea of living in space and the concept of 3D printing seemed straight out of science fiction. Today, French scientists are developing a way to 3D print houses directly on Mars—and it’s not as far-fetched as you’d think.

In response to a contest launched by NASA, which challenges participants to design viable habitats for life on Mars that are technically achievable, economically sustainable, and minimize reliance on support from Earth, French 3D printing company Fabulous has gathered a team of architects, designers, scientists and engineers to develop their conceptual real estate idea, SFERO.

Named after the French names for sphere, iron, and water, the 3D printed structures could house up to four people within 80 square meters, including a small interior garden. In order to accomplish construction, the team plans to utilize the Red Planet’s existing resources: water, which is present in the form of ice, and iron oxide, which is found in high concentrations on Mars’ surface.

To draw water, they envision an eight-meter telescopic drill shaft that can dig several meters below Martian soil. One robotic arm would pump material, removing iron from the subsoil, while another arm could 3D print the foundation and walls in a period of just three to four months. According to the research, the advantages of this type of construction include the ability to build a solid foundation by merging the iron material directly into the ground, the fabrication of spherical iron shells with a honeycomb structure that is resistant to internal pressurization (Mars’ atmosphere being particularly weak), and layer-by-layer customization of the house itself, from the number of floors to bed sizes and types of furniture, depending on the specifics of the mission.

Images via Fabulous and Maddyness

“The advantage of 3D printing is that we can do everything on site, and take advantage of the resources on hand, namely iron and water in the form of ice,” said Pierre Brisson, a member of the Mars Society association. “We can build everything with 3D printing, right down to the closet hinges,” affirmed Arnault Coulet, founder of Fabulous.

While it seems to be very detailed and well thought-out, Fabulous’ proposal isn’t being considered by NASA. “We made it through the first selection round, but the final contest is only open to US citizens,” said Coulet. That’s not to say they’re going to scrap the whole idea: “With SFERO, we are pushing the idea that a habitat should adapt itself to its surroundings, to the native and available resources, without sacrificing security. It’s a question that we should be asking at a time when 3D printing as the power to revolutionize the real estate market: Do we need to import construction materials? To build things as we always have, even as resources are becoming more and more scarce, and the housing need is increasing all over the world?”

These kinds of comments have been provoking the real estate industry for some time. 3D printed houses and even hotels are already a reality here on Earth, and with a global housing crisis on the horizon, this research could prove to me more valuable here than light-years away. “The value of our project is to show that there is a French expertise in space research and in 3D printing,” said Coulet. “We want to show that these techniques are also achievable for fabrication emergency shelters [on Earth].”



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



Maybe you also like:


Micah wrote at 9/24/2015 9:45:46 AM:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive