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

foster + partners to 3D print structures on the moon

foster + partners to 3D print structures on the moonmulti-dome base being constructedimages 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 printingimages courtesy european space agency



3D-printed lunar base designimages courtesy european space agency



D-shape printerimages 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 structureimages courtesy european space agency



1.5 tonne building blockimages courtesy european space agency

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