California-based electronics printing company nano3Dprint announced a partnership with Finite Space, an ambitious German startup with a vision to utilize on-site resources for the production of vehicles, construction machinery, and everyday equipment required by Moon and Mars crews. This collaborative venture aims to push the boundaries of extraterrestrial sustainability to new heights.
By leveraging nano3Dprint’s cutting-edge technology and expertise in electronics printing, in collaboration with Finite Space’s goal of establishing a self-sufficient lunar economy, the partnership aims to revolutionize practices in outer space. In the initial phase of the project, nano3Dprint’s multi-material A2200 electronics printer will be utilized along with locally sourced materials from the moon, including metals, silicon, and recycled plastics. These resources will be employed to manufacture a three-foot-long lunar rover for exploration purposes. Moreover, the duo has plans to progressively produce additional rover components and tools throughout the project.
Tobias Patzer, Finite Space’s Design Lead, mentioned that the decision to collaborate with nano3Dprint was influenced by NASA‘s research highlighting the advancements achieved with their printers. The flexibility of material choice and quality provided by the A2200 is a key capability that caught their attention. For instance, the demo design includes a cargo bay and tool slot that can be integrated with a plow, drill, or robotic manipulator. Patzer claims that additional capabilities will be added as the project evolves.
By using conductive inks with a fused deposition modeling (FDM) extruder, the A2200 can 3D print electronic objects as a continuous part, reducing the need for assembly. This technology enables the fabrication of complex parts and tools using multiple materials (such as PCB circuits, interconnects, and wiring harnesses) with the added benefit of printing electronics and circuitry directly into the components. Such capabilities mark a significant breakthrough for space exploration and colonization, as it facilitates the on-site production of essential tools and parts, ultimately contributing to the development of a self-sustainable lunar economy.
Compact in size and similar to a microwave oven, the A2200 can be transported to space and rapidly produce tools and parts on demand. By deploying a space-based printer, both the frequency of resupply missions and the quantity of supplies astronauts need to carry can be significantly reduced.
Ramsey Stevens, CEO of nano3Dprint, expressed enthusiasm, emphasizing the importance of space for daily life and the various applications it supports, such as GPS, weather forecasting, and satellite imagery. He anticipates that Finite Space’s utilization of the new rover will further advance space exploration.
Finite Space’s in-space manufactured (ISM) modular rover will play a crucial role in supporting extraterrestrial bases. By utilizing in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) and on-site additive manufacturing, the startup aims to minimize the costly delivery of spare parts. Having 3D printing systems in space allows for the production and installation of spare parts on-site, eliminating the need for redundancy and enabling Finite Space to equip its rovers with heavier loads.
This strategic alliance between nano3Dprint and Finite Space holds tremendous promise, paving the way for innovative solutions that enhance the efficiency, durability, and environmental friendliness of technologies deployed beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Although the project is still quite ambitious, especially since there is no specific timeline on when additive manufacturing will be deployed to the moon, they aspire to make significant contributions to the future of space exploration and the establishment of sustainable practices in the cosmos.
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