Perhaps you are getting tired of hearing about the 3D printing of buildings by now. After all, 3D printed construction has been in the news quite a bit over the past few weeks. One architect and civil engineer, Andrey Rudenko, believes that this is just the very beginning of what could be the start of an eventual construction industry based almost exclusively around 3D printing technology.
Rudenko, for those of you who have been living on the moon for the past year, is an engineer who has built his own $200,000 3D printer which is capable of printing large buildings. Back in August he showed the world that he wasn’t just throwing the idea around that buildings could actually be constructed using 3D printers, when he unveiled his 3D printed castle. Then earlier this week, he revealed to 3DPrint.com his plans to 3D print an entire house in just 5 days, and followed that up with unveiling plans to 3D print an entire village. He hopes that this village will be used for educational purposes and to train future construction workers, architects and engineers about the capabilities that 3D printing offers the industry.
Now, Rudenko tells 3DPrint.com that he also has more up his sleeve, with plans that take his 3D printer off the ground and out of Earth’s atmosphere to a place we are all familiar with: the moon. That’s right! Rudenko’s next conquest is on the moon.
“I am also working on a printer which will be able to print houses on the moon using dust, and this work on the printer for the moon helps me to improve my current 3D concrete house printer,” he tells 3DPrint.com.
Rudenko certainly would not be alone in his endeavor to create a 3D printer capable of printing moon bases for future space missions to the Earth’s only natural satellite. As we have reported in the past, other individuals and agencies are also researching the potential that 3D printing could have on the moon and on other un-Earthly destinations in Space. Back in December, we covered a story in which NASA has been testing the feasibility of such a project. In November, the European Space Agency released a video depicting a concept of 3D printing a base on the moon.
The fact remains that Rudenko is one of only a few individuals who have proven that the technology is capable of printing large structures. For 3D printing on the moon, however, his technology will completely need to be overhauled. Instead of utilizing an extrusion system that extrudes a concrete mixture, his new 3D printer will utilize a sintering system.
The Moon Printer would utilize solar power in order to sinter moon dust, one layer at a time, building up habitable structures. This means that there would be no requirement for sending any materials other than the 3D printer itself to the moon for this operation.
“I’m able to build a very lightweight, compact fully/semi automatic 3D printer [for this purpose],” Rudenko explains.
He tells us that he has already begun building a similar 3D printer, to serve as an experimental machine to test its feasibility for printing with regolith/sand.
“I’m already using some part of the idea to develop a simplified version of the printer to 3D print simple houses in developing countries,” he says. “It’s less expensive of a design but it will need firmware modification.”
What he is currently looking for, however, is the backing of a large company, or space agency such as NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), Russian (Roscosmos), or China Space Agency (国家航天局). He tells us that he has already reached out to NASA, and was given a brief response simply stating:
“At this time, NASA is not planning on any human missions or bases on the moon. Thanks for your interest in America’s space program.”
Rudenko hopes that he will have an opportunity to show what his machine can do for someone interested in making 3D printing on the moon a reality. If he finds no takers, he won’t give up with the idea. He has a “Plan B,” which involves using his technology to 3D print buildings in deserts here on Earth.
“I can use the sintering technology to build houses somewhere in the desert using just sand and sun radiation (solar energy),” Rudenko tells us. “It will be a slow process, but fully automatic with no need for cement or water. Sadly, there is not as much of a demand for houses in the desert as much as on the Moon, but Dubai is desert. The sun energy and sand are free there, so virtually, materials are free compared to $3 for a small bag of sand here in Minnesota [used to 3D print his castle].”
He is currently throwing around the idea of packing up his printer, and flying out to Dubai to experiment further with this technology. Perhaps, like that of his other 3D house printer, it won’t be until he showcases an end result that others will begin taking interest in what he has to offer. After seeing what Rudenko is capable of with his 3D printed castle, is there really any reason to doubt this next project?
Regardless if his technology makes it to the moon or not, if proven, it provides a method for the fabrication of livable structures at virtually no cost whatsoever — except for minimal labor, and the development and maintenance of the printer itself.
What do you think about Rudenko’s plan to create this large sintering 3D printer? Discuss in the Andrey Rudenko 3D Moon Printer forum thread on 3DPB.com.