MX3D 3D Prints Lunar Flooring for ESA to Test 3D Printing on the Moon

Inkbit

Share this Article

The European Space Agency (ESA) is backing architecture firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in developing a habitat to be built on the moon. A prototype for a skeletal floor has been developed by metal 3D printing firm MX3D, famous earlier this year for its metal 3D printed bridge in Amsterdam, built with wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM), which leverages a robotic arm to melt metal wire into a freestanding object.

For the floor system, engineers needed to meet construction constraints maintaining structural integrity. By delineating stress map analysis and an optimized continuous topology, MX3D scientists created a structure with a smooth web pattern design which cantilevers towards the center to outside, allowing these cross sections to be printed at a reduced thickness without losing structural integrity.

The floor was printed using MX3D’s proprietary WAAM method with 308LSi stainless steel, a popular material in the aerospace and space industries. The print took 246 hours, weighed in at 395 kg and measured 4.5 m long. Six separate segments make up the overall floor design, these pieces are printed individually and then are welded together, the structure is held up by three columns and features a series of floor panels.

Advenit Makaya, Advanced Manufacturing Engineer at ESA, said of the project, “This is a remarkable achievement from MX3D, which further highlights the potential of this additive manufacturing technique for an increasing range of space applications. The design flexibility and the possibility to combine the printed structure with embedded monitoring systems – as demonstrated in the 3D-printed bridge in Amsterdam – are worth investigating for applications in space structures.”

“This was a great opportunity to show the potential of our technology for the fabrication of lightweight metal structures together with ESA and SOM,” explains Gijs van der Velden, CEO of MX3D. “It was a perfect project for MX3D to leverage its experience in printing topology optimised metal structures. Achieving an optimal use of material is a company goal at MX3D because – just as when designing space applications – every reduced kilo in a MX3D design is a direct win for a project’s feasibility.”

Space-based construction is thought to benefit greatly from the convenience and customizability that 3D printing affords. In theory, printers can be set up and used to build entire habitations, even using the planet’s own regolith as feedstock. Spacecraft could potentially include 3D printing systems allowing astronauts to print parts or tools as necessary, as already occurs on the International Space Station.

NASA itself is currently backing 36 projects related to lunar 3D printing. As a part of its Artemis project, which aims to return astronauts to the moon by 2024 to explore the south pole, NASA is also looking for ways to inhabit the moon long-term. Last year, the space agency contracted construction 3D printing firm ICON to prototype a moon base. Termed Project Olympus, the firm is working to develop buildings that; can be printed directly on the moon, withstand extraterrestrial conditions, use materials found on the moon, and leave no waste. Such technology, when developed, could prove useful for sustainable construction here on Earth as well.

Share this Article


Recent News

Auto Glass Giant Saint-Gobain Cuts Costs & Lead Time with BCN3D 3D Printers

Startup Accelerator: Quantica Disrupts Inkjet 3D Printing with JetPack Development Platform



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

Featured

The Digital Textile Tech Behind Kornit’s Sustainable Fashion

I recently traveled to Israel to attend Kornit Fashion Week Tel Aviv 2022 and see Kornit Digital (NASDAQ: KRNT) introduce its Atlas MAX Poly and Apollo solutions for digital, sustainable fashion. The...

Fashion 3D Printing Targeted by Stratasys with New Textile 3D Printer

Steadily, Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS) has been releasing industry-specific versions of its PolyJet technology: one targeted at dental, one at medical, another for engineering, and so on. Now, it’s taking on...

Featured

Kornit Showcases the Future of Sustainable Digital Fashion, 3D and Otherwise

Fashion is one of the world’s most polluted industries, as Ronen Samuel, CEO of Kornit Digital (NASDAQ: KRNT), said at Kornit Fashion Week Tel Aviv 2022. I was lucky enough...

Color 3D Printing Firm Rize3D Shuts Down—Will it Rize Again?

Rize3D has gone out of business. However, if you have a Rize system, you can still obtain service and filament through the firm Palitra3D. The company also aims to license...