May 8, 2017 | By Tess

NASA has named the top-scoring teams for the current phase of its 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, Phase 2: Level 1 Compression Test Competition. The challenge, which saw participating teams 3D print samples of the space habitat materials they are developing, recently wrapped up. The two top-scoring teams were Foster + Partners | Branch Technology, which was awarded $85,930, and the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, which received $14,070 (for a total of $100,000).

Here at 3Ders, we’ve been following NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge closely. The challenge was set up to find ways of building livable structures and habitats using autonomous machines (such as 3D printers) and local materials in deep space. The various 3D printing technologies, structures, and materials that companies and research groups are developing for the challenge could also be used here on Earth to manufacture low-cost housing for certain regions.

The first phase of the competition, the Design Competition, was completed in 2015, and saw the MARS ICE HOUSE, conceived of by the SEArch Consortium, Clouds AO, and various scientists and experts, take home the first prize of $25,000.

Phase 2 of the challenge, which launched in October 2016, is centered on the development of material technologies needed to 3D print and build structural components suitable for living in space. The second phase offers $1.1 million in prize money (which is divvied up between the various phases, and top-scoring teams).

The University of Alaska team created a 3D printer to print a cone sample for Phase 2 Level 1

The Level 1 Compression Test Competition, which invited teams to develop 3D printable materials for a space habitat and sample them by 3D printing a cylinder structure and a truncated cone, is the first of three “sub-competitions” that make up Phase 2. The next level, called the Beam Member Competition, asks participants to 3D print a structural beam to be tested.

"Seeing tangible, 3D printed objects for this phase makes the goals of this challenge more conceivable than ever," commented Monsi Roman, program manager of NASA’s Centennial Challenges Program, which is working alongside NASA for the habitat challenge. "This is the first step toward building an entire habitat structure, and the potential to use this technology to aid human exploration to new worlds is thrilling."

The two top winners of the Phase 2, Level 1 challenge were selected based on how their 3D printed samples performed during various lab tests. The top prize of $85,930 went to architecture firm and 3D printing construction company Foster + Partners | Branch Technology, while the University of Alaska’s 3D printed samples were rewarded with a prize of $14,070. Other participants in the challenge included Bubble Base from Winston-Salem, North Carolina; the Pennsylvania State University of University Park; the CTL Group Mars from Skokie, Illinois; ROBOCON from Singapore; and Moon X Construction from Seoul, South Korea.

Foster + Partners | Branch Technology's 3D printed cylinder structure for Phase 2 Level 1 challenge

"The winners of Phase 1 and this first stage of Phase 2 are to be commended for their innovation in creating a solution that will fit not only in our world but beyond," said Gary Roberts, President of Bradley University, another of NASA’s partners for the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge. "I look forward to the next phase and seeing teams work to advance critical systems needed for human space exploration like never before."

As mentioned, Phase 2, the Structural Member Competition, is offering a total of $1.1 million in prize money for the development of materials for 3D printing space-friendly structural components. Once Phase 2 wraps up, teams will enter into Phase 3, the On-Site Habitat Competition, which will focus on the development of fabrication and 3D printing technologies and has a $1.4 million prize purse.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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