The European Space Agency (ESA) and London-bases architectural firm Foster + Partners are working on a way to 3D print a lunar base. For this project they will be using local soil – regolith - instead of plastics, in order to reduce the amount of brought materials and lower the overall costs.
The idea is to create a weight-bearing dome with cellular structured walls to provide for shelter against micrometeoroids and space radiation. The base needs to be sufficient to take in up to four astronauts. Since the team is testing the project down on earth, it simulates soil using a mixture of silicon, aluminum, calcium, iron and magnesium oxide. In addition, they use a vacuum chamber in order to simulate the moon’s surface. After each print, salt is added to harden up the wall and as it seems, the team has already printed out several wall sections.
It is expected that in the future houses will be built with the help of a 3D printer. Southern Californian company Contour Crafting has already been working on a way to build concrete buildings with a 3D printer, but the company has now found a fellow thinker in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. DUS Architects is working on building a 3D printed canal house, which will be opened to the public by March 1.
The project is called 3D Print Canal House and the home will be 3D printed room by room, using a 20-foot-tall 3D printer, called KamerPrinter (translation: room printer). DUS Architects has started using the construction expo at Januari 10, and they have already created items such as a giant bench. By March 1, visitors can also make a visit to the 3D printing construction site during weekdays. The money the company earns from tickets will be used for the project, which somehow turns it into a crowd funding project where Amsterdam citizens altogether pay for a new building in their city.
3D printing can help to make the world more green. Michigan Technology University’s Joshua Pearce conducted a lifecycle economic analysis on 3D printing in an average American household. The main conclusion from his inquiry is that making objects with a 3D printer uses less energy than producing it in a factory.
The work of a 3D printer. Credits: Subhashish Panigrahi.
Pearce is a professor of materials science and engineering/ electrical and computer engineering. With his team he analyzed the process of creating inter alia, an orange juicer and a children’s building block. He analyzed the complete process the analyzed objects underwent and used two possible endpoints of the process: entry in the US (if an item was manufactured overseas) or printing it at home on a 3D printer.
Today, 3D Systems announced the availability of a new plastic injection molding-like material. It is called VisiJet M3 Black and can be used with the Projet professional 3D Printers of 3D Systems. This material can be used for more demanding and end use products. As of now, it is the strongest, most durable Projet material on the market.
Products printed with this material are more likely to be used as end products because of the excellent toughness and flex properties that this material has.
After being inspired by an old 3D printer, Dutch student Dirk van der Kooij got his hands on an industrial robot from a Chinese production line to help him with his graduation project. Designing furniture with the use of 3D printing was the mission so he transformed this robot into a 3D printer called Furoc. This printer can print out furniture as a continuous line and can produce a chair in a variety of colors and designs within 3 hours. This method allows the furniture to be made 40 times faster than the traditional way of 3D printing.
Furoc 3D printer
With his Furoc printer, Dirk won the Dutch Design Award and the DMY award in Berlin. He is currently taking on dozens of exhibitions across Europe to showcase his creation.
The next video shows you how this continuous printer actually works:
To produce the “Endless” rocking chair, Dirk went through 54 prototypes to reach the final design. The neat thing in this process was that each ‘failed’ prototype was shredded en reused in the process of creating the next.
If you are interested in Dirk’s designs or want to know some more about his project, you can visit his website here.
This printer features a built-in spooler with four independent filament bays. This means that The Indymaker can print objects with four different materials/colors. A computer-controlled filament switch integrates with the spooling bay to deliver your choice of color, when and where its needed.
The first kit was built early in 2011 and the final design is now a Kickstarter project. They are in need of some extra pledges to get their project funded so if you believe in this printer, go visit their page on Kickstarter and give them your support!