Sep 16, 2015 | By Alec

Over the past few years, NASA has fully embraced 3D printing technology not just here on earth for design and creation, but even out there in space. With Mars being the main goal, they have even identified 3D printing as a core manufacturing technology to be used in space. As part of that interpretation, they announced a big Mars Habitat design competition last May, with the stipulation that all structures had to be 3D printable – and they have just announced the competition finalists over on the 3DP Challenge Tumblr.

To remind readers, this competion is fully aimed at building sustainable housing solutions that can be used on Earth and beyond it. ‘We believe in the power of 3D printing and additive construction, and see potential in the unique capabilities of these technologies to use locally sourced resources as building material, and therefore reduce the need to ship materials to the point of construction,’ NASA said as part of the competition announcement. ‘If we can solve for the need to ship materials, we can develop solutions for a variety of scenarios, including those for humanitarian and disaster relief efforts on earth, wherever affordable housing is needed and access to conventional building materials is limited.’

And the competitors have responded with some remarkable design solutions. The structures were required to be 3D printable and support four (fictional) astronauts as they train for a mission to Mars, and this has resulted in some very interesting concepts. While the final winners will be picked at the New York City Maker Faire on 27 September by a combination of a VIP judge panel and the Faire visitors, we can already take a look at them online.

Some, like Tomasz Dzieduszynski’s ‘The Martian Vault’ look very recognizable as structures you might see on earth, and that wasn’t because of a lack of inspiration. ‘Since the “cloister vault” geometry is proven to be effective in supporting structures for more than thousand years on Earth, it will do well in harsh, Martian conditions,’ he says of his 3D printable vault. ‘The free-standing vault is formed around the inflatable scaffolding by small, 3D-printing robots, which use local regolith as a main construction material.’ Featuring light and thick honeycomb shells, the vault is protected against both radiation and meteorites, while extensions can be added over time. An interesting concept.

However, others look far more futuristic, like the Outpost Olympus by team Red House, which is barely distinguishable from its surroundings. ‘We recognized that in order to reduce the enormous cost of human exploration on Mars, innovative construction techniques must be brought to bear. Since the most expensive resource on Mars is human labor, our approach makes use of autonomous manufacturing via 3D Printing,’ they say. ‘With a focus on near future feasibility, our design adapts an existing industrial process, basalt composite rod manufacturing, to 3D print a structural frame which serves as the core of our proposed habitat.’ These materials are collected directly from the surface and will be placed over a structure and fabrics to provide a safe and surprisingly camouflaged shelter.

But there is plenty of variation to be found within the competition as well; RedWorks’ RedWorks Habitat for instance looks like a small igloo, but is in fact a huge underground contruction. In stark contrast is the creation of team Rustem Baishev, who are envisioning a huge circular compound. In short, plenty of interesting 3D printable creations have been submitted.

Together, they are competiting for the $50,000 prize for the best habitat, while those who develop the 3D fabrication technology that will actually be used can look forward to a 1.1 million dollar prize. But obviously this competition is not about the money, but about pushing the envelope for the harnessing of space resources to enable new breakthroughs in space exploration. We are therefore very interested to see who will come out as a winner later this month.



Posted in 3D Design



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vivian castro wrote at 10/18/2017 8:43:42 PM:

more please

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