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Author Topic: 3D printing technology news  (Read 33921 times)

Offline Grey Havoc

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3D printing technology news
« on: February 01, 2013, 06:47:53 am »
Just came across this over on Slashdot:

http://www.fosterandpartners.com/News/492/Default.aspx

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31/01/2013
Foster + Partners works with European Space Agency to 3D print structures on the moon


Foster + Partners is part of a consortium set up by the ESA to explore the possibilities of 3D printing to construct lunar habitations. Addressing the challenges of transporting materials to the moon, the study is investigating the use of lunar soil, known as regolith, as building matter.

The practice has designed a lunar base to house four people, which can offer protection from meteorites, gamma radiation and high temperature fluctuations. The base is first unfolded from a tubular module that can be transported by space rocket. An inflatable dome then extends from one end of this cylinder to provide a support structure for construction. Layers of regolith are then built up over the dome by a robot-operated 3D printer to create a protective shell.

To ensure strength while keeping the amount of binding “ink” to a minimum, the shell is made up of a hollow closed cellular structure similar to foam. The geometry of the structure was designed by Foster + Partners in collaboration with consortium partners – it is groundbreaking in demonstrating the potential of 3D printing to create structures that are close to natural biological systems.

Simulated lunar soil has been used to create a 1.5 tonne mockup and 3D printing tests have been undertaken at a smaller scale in a vacuum chamber to echo lunar conditions. The planned site for the base is at the moon’s southern pole, where there is near perpetual sunlight on the horizon.

The consortium includes Italian space engineering firm Alta SpA, working with Pisa-based engineering university Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna. Monolite UK supplied the D-Shape™ printer and developed a European source for lunar regolith stimulant, which has been used for printing all samples and demonstrators.

Xavier De Kestelier, Partner, Foster + Partners Specialist Modelling Group:
“As a practice, we are used to designing for extreme climates on earth and exploiting the environmental benefits of using local, sustainable materials – our lunar habitation follows a similar logic. It has been a fascinating and unique design process, which has been driven by the possibilities inherent in the material. We look forward to working with ESA and our consortium partners on future research projects.”

Links:
http://www.esa.int
http://www.esa.int/For_Media
« Last Edit: March 07, 2014, 08:55:53 pm by PaulMM (Overscan) »
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Offline blackstar

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Re: 3D printing technology news
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2013, 12:40:54 pm »
3D printing is now the new magic space technology. It is showing up everywhere in space articles and startups now. Lots of people are making extravagant claims for it. They think that it makes everything possible in space. That misses a number of key points. For starters, it hasn't been proven in a space environment. And it also requires raw materials that will have to be either delivered (launched) or processed in situ.

Everybody likes to wave their magic wand, yell "Expecto petronas!" and assume that a 3D printer will simply build whatever they want wherever they want it.



Offline Hobbes

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Re: 3D printing technology news
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2013, 12:53:38 am »
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it hasn't been proven in a space environment
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If you read the article, you'll see that that's just what they're doing.

Offline blackstar

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Re: 3D printing technology news
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2013, 06:49:32 am »
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it hasn't been proven in a space environment
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If you read the article, you'll see that that's just what they're doing.

I did read it. Still hasn't been proven. Like so many things in spaceflight, people talk about proposed technologies in the past or current tense, as if they already exist and have already demonstrated their capabilities. Thus all you need to do is launch a payload powered by VASIMR atop a Falcon 9 Heavy and land it on Mars with the Red Dragon...

In the case of 3D printing I see both front end and back end issues--yes, you have to get the 3D printer to work, but many of these proposals assume that it's easy to get the raw materials. I've been to AIAA sessions where they discussed resource extraction at the Moon or Mars and it doesn't sound easy, but then I read stuff on the internets where people simply brush that aside. "All you have to do is mine the materials from the regolith..."


Offline Hobbes

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Re: 3D printing technology news
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2013, 07:34:58 am »
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Still hasn't been proven.


In order for a technology to be proven, somebody has to prove it. This is what ESA and Foster are doing, so IMO it's unfair to rag on them for talking about 3D printing.

Offline blackstar

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Re: 3D printing technology news
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2013, 01:24:45 pm »
I wasn't ragging them. I was expressing general frustration with the hype. Space enthusiasts and journalists who have no idea what TRL means.

Offline Grey Havoc

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Re: 3D printing technology news
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2013, 05:13:43 am »
Some hype in this article as well: http://www.wired.com/design/2013/02/3-d-printing-on-the-moon/

However, from a 2011 link within the article:



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USC Professors Behrokh Khoshnevis (Engineering), Anders Carlson (Architecture), Neil Leach (Architecture) and Madhu Thangavelu (Astronautics) have completed their first visualization for their NASA research grant into the potential use of Contour Crafting robotic fabrication technology to build structures on the Moon. The image here shows a storage space being constructed by a Contour Crafting robot housed on a version of the Athlete rover developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. The robot prints the structure layer by layer using lunar concrete composed of regolith from the surface of the Moon. Contour Crafting was invented originally for use on earth by Behrokh Khoshnevis at USC, whose alumni include Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the Moon. It was recently voted one of the top 15 innovations most likely to change the World. The question now being addressed is how it will change the Moon. [Visualization by Behnaz Farahi and Connor Wingfield.]



« Last Edit: February 04, 2013, 05:20:35 am by Grey Havoc »
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Offline OM

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Re: 3D printing technology news
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2013, 03:44:26 pm »
I wasn't ragging them. I was expressing general frustration with the hype. Space enthusiasts and journalists who have no idea what TRL means.


...The two issues I don't see being resolved in this study are:


1) Much of how 3D printing works has been developed and tested based on the "bath", "goop" or "powder" is layered under 1G conditions. Back when the "green liquid/gel meets laser" method was king - circa 1994-1995 or thereabouts - the engineers in the proto fab labs locally were doing some back-of-the-barnap number crunching during a tech fair luncheon, and they figured that if you thickened the gel, this method would work fairly well in 1/6G. But a couple of the ME guys were claiming that the powder method would produce solids with a more "gossamer", weaker structure to them because there was less weight to hold one layer down on top of the next as it was being created. There was some issue of settling that was required for a sturdier structure. The current inkjet "goop" process that appears to be the defacto standard for low to middle-end 3D printers would most likely suffer from the same problems.


...The only way to know for certain would be to actually conduct tests on, say, a MakeBot 3D printer in the worst case scenario, sending one up on a Dragon and having it reproduce itself, then leaving the replicant on ISS for them to conduct their own tests with - probably to produce temporary replacement solids until the actual uberoverpriced replacements can be sent up on the next Dragon/Soyuz.


2) It also doesn't address the most important element of any printer, regardless of substance being used to print with: will this wind up being a case of where it's cheaper to send up another Lunar Printer Module when the cartridges run out, or will NASA be locked into a contract where they have to purchase factory issued refills that cost more than a new LPM?  :P :P :P :P :P


"Hewlett-Packard starts their own space program. Film at 11."

Offline Grey Havoc

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Re: 3D printing technology news
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2013, 02:55:10 pm »
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Offline blackstar

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Re: 3D printing technology news
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2013, 09:02:57 am »
My 3D printing study finally seems to be going forward (hopefully having squeeked past sequestration), so maybe in a year or so I'll be an expert!
« Last Edit: February 10, 2013, 11:04:40 am by blackstar »

Offline Grey Havoc

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Re: 3D printing technology news
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2013, 09:10:00 am »
Good on you!
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Offline OM

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Re: 3D printing technology news
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2013, 06:48:44 pm »
My 3D printing study finally seems to be going forward (hopefully having squeeked past sequestration), so maybe in a year or so I'll be an expert!


...Care to share with us what printer you've been looking at and/or working with?

Online sienar

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Re: 3D printing technology news
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2013, 09:50:02 pm »
Foster+Partners as in Lord Norman Foster?


One can hope that his great WTC design may breath again, even if on the vacuum of the moon. Its too good to be left unbuilt (although the Chinese made a knowckoff  :( )


Sorry if this is too off topic.

Offline Rhinocrates

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Re: 3D printing technology news
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2013, 07:21:02 pm »
Not that far off topic, I would think - Foster is perhaps the architect with the greatest appreciation of aerospace technology and engineering, making real as opposed to cosmetic use of it in his firm's designs.  He's a qualified pilot, was a protege of Buckminster Fuller and once said that the greatest example of twentieth century architecture was the Boeing 747.

The Hangar Terminal Facility at Spaceport America is a Foster + Partners project.

The Wiki article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Foster


And the "Gherkin" has received this inevitable parody...
« Last Edit: February 24, 2013, 07:28:54 pm by Rhinocrates »
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Offline blackstar

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Re: 3D printing technology news
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2013, 08:13:19 am »
Finally got our funding from the USAF. We'll be kicking off our 3D printing in space study soon. NASA is flying a printer on ISS next year.