Here at 3D Rapid Print, one of the fastest growing 3D Printing companies in the Thames Valley, we like to keep abreast of the latest innovations in 3D printing.
Circa May 2015, America’s National Aeronautics And Space Administration (NASA) launched its 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, which it describes as “a Centennial Challenges Program competition that seeks to advance additive construction technology needed to create sustainable housing solutions for Earth, the Moon, Mars and beyond.” (The Centennial Challenges are a set of inducement prize contests hosted by NASA for achievements in technology that aren’t funded by the American government.)
Its grand final was held between May 1st and May 4th 2019 at the Edwards Demonstration & Learning Center of Edwards, Illinois, pitting Pennsylvania State University against AI SpaceFactory of New York City, New York. (AISpaceFactory is a self-proclaimed “multi-planetary architectural and technology design agency founded to build a better future – on and beyond Earth.”) AI SpaceFactory won, receiving $500,000 in prize money, with Pennsylvania State University receiving $200,000 as the runner-up. Over the last 4 years, the challenge has seen NASA award a total of $2 million in prize money and featured more than 60 competing teams.
Both teams were charged with 3D printing one-third scale versions of the shelters they had designed for previous parts of the challenge, using materials that could be found on deep-space destinations like the Moon or Mars. Both subscale shelters were built in 3 10-hour increments via robotic construction techniques to keep human intervention as low as possible. They were subsequently tested for structural integrity, durability, leakage and material mix, including being hit with a small wrecking ball and pressed under the bucket of a backhoe. Pennsylvania’s shelter featured a roof that fully enclosed the structure, which they claimed was something that had never been done before. AISpaceFactory plan to recycle the materials used to build their shelter to 3D print TERA, which they described as “the first-ever space-tech eco habitat on Earth;” its creation was funded via a campaign on crowdfunding website Indiegogo.
NASA’s Centennial Challenges program was managed via a collaboration with Bradley University of Peoria, Illinois. It was administered via Bradley University collaborating with sponsors that included:
- Construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar of Deerfield, Illinois, who also own the Edwards Demonstration & Learning Center.
- Self-proclaimed “one of the most respected global engineering, construction, and project management companies” Bechtel of Reston, Virginia. As of May 2019, they are the most commercially successful construction company in America.
- Brick & Mortar Ventures of San Francisco, California who describe their “mission” as “Identify, invest in, and grow emerging companies developing innovative software and hardware solutions for the industries of architecture, engineering, construction, and facilities management.”
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
3D printing is an amazing tool. It can grow your small business or start a mini revolution in an industry. Explore what it can do for you when you contact us today.
Disclaimer: Featured image of “Curiosity – Robot Geologist and Chemist in One!” is in the public domain in the United States because it was solely created by NASA. NASA copyright policy states that “NASA material is not protected by copyright unless noted.”