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foster + partners to 3D print structures on the moon
original content
jan 31, 2013
foster + partners to 3D print structures on the moon


foster + partners to 3D print structures on the moon
multi-dome base being constructed
images courtesy european space agency


 

 

foster + partners have teamed up with the european space agency to 3D print structures on the moon using local materials.
with current technologies allowing for entire buildings to be constructed using three-dimensional printing methods, the idea
of expanding to build lunar habits could be seen as realistic in the coming years.

 

by devising a weight-bearing ‘catenary’ dome design with a cellular structured wall to shield against micro-meteoroids
and space radiation, foster + partners incorporate a pressurised inflatable to shelter astronauts. the hollow closed-cell structure –
reminiscent of bird bones – provides a good combination of strength and weight. as a demonstration, 1.5 tonne building block
was produced with a D-shape printer which draws material reference from 3D-printed lunar soil.

 

 

lunar base made with 3D printing
images courtesy european space agency

 

 

3D-printed lunar base design
images courtesy european space agency

 

 

D-shape printer
images courtesy european space agency

 

 

a mobile printing array of nozzles on a six meter frame to spray a binding solution onto a sand-like building material –
built up layer by layer. ‘first, we needed to mix the simulated lunar material with magnesium oxide. this turns it into
‘paper’ we can print with,’ explains monolite founder enrico dini. ’then for our structural ‘ink’ we apply a binding salt
which converts material to a stone-like solid. ‘our current printer builds at a rate of around 2 m per hour, while our
next-generation design should attain 3.5 meters per hour, completing an entire building in a week.’

 

 

3D-printed structure
images courtesy european space agency

 

 

1.5 tonne building block
images courtesy european space agency

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