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Engineering Materials
Slideshow: 3D Printing Will Go to Mars
9/13/2012

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NASA-funded research by University of Southern California professors Behrokh Khoshnevis, Madhu Thangavelu, Neil Leach, and Anders Carlson is exploring how structures on the moon can made using the Contour Crafting robot. Under NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts program, the researchers aim to develop methods for creating infrastructure, such as roads and landing pads, to support human settlement on the moon. The technology can create structures in situ from local materials, which is especially important for long-term, continuously expanding operations on the moon. For example, the team is exploring a nozzle system that heats lunar soil into a cement-like paste. In this visualization by Behnaz Farahi and Connor Wingfield, a lander descends on a pad fabricated by the Contour Crafting robot. (Source: University of Southern California/Contour Crafting)
NASA-funded research by University of Southern California professors Behrokh Khoshnevis, Madhu Thangavelu, Neil Leach, and Anders Carlson is exploring how structures on the moon can made using the Contour Crafting robot. Under NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts program, the researchers aim to develop methods for creating infrastructure, such as roads and landing pads, to support human settlement on the moon. The technology can create structures in situ from local materials, which is especially important for long-term, continuously expanding operations on the moon. For example, the team is exploring a nozzle system that heats lunar soil into a cement-like paste. In this visualization by Behnaz Farahi and Connor Wingfield, a lander descends on a pad fabricated by the Contour Crafting robot.
(Source: University of Southern California/Contour Crafting)

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NadineJ
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Re: Fascinating
NadineJ   9/16/2012 10:45:09 AM
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@Ann-If I can carve out the time to do research on this, I'll post anything I find.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Fascinating
Ann R. Thryft   9/14/2012 2:49:07 PM
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Beth, the Mars project--even if only built on the ground during testing--should give some good data for the intended use of the technology, which the website states is emergency and low-cost shelters and/or permanent housing, ads well as commercial buildings. It will be interesting to see the results.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Fascinating
Ann R. Thryft   9/14/2012 2:45:21 PM
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78RPM, I'm with you on that. In the ancient days, we built our own houses with the help of the local community using local materials, and it sure didn't take 30 years.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Fascinating
Beth Stackpole   9/14/2012 1:44:26 PM
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The idea of being able to 3D print whole buildings is definitely something that could have huge impact on housing the developing world or even providing respite after disasters like the Japanese earthquake and tsunami and the earthquake in Haiti. I would think it's a fast, reasonably inexpensive way to get shelter up and usable quickly. I hope that this actually can become a reality because the possibilities are pretty unbelievable.

78RPM
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Re: Fascinating
78RPM   9/14/2012 1:32:53 PM
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Yes, Ann, manufacturing buildings fascinated me too. Why should it take a family 30 years to pay for a house? 3D AM from local materials might be the answer to prosperity for the whole world.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Fascinating
Ann R. Thryft   9/14/2012 12:36:14 PM
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Nadine, I haven 't seen a MIS video. Let us know if you find one.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: 3D printing has come a long way
Ann R. Thryft   9/14/2012 12:35:00 PM
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Chuck, I agree. I consider my discovery of the Contour Crafting website a highlight of my AM reporting so far this year.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Concerns about extreme Cold
Ann R. Thryft   9/14/2012 12:34:30 PM
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Jim, thanks for that experimental info. I've read elsewhere that one big inhibitor to date for using AM techniques in aerospace is the lack of resistance of the materials to temperature extremes, especially high temps. OTOH, high-end AM materials are not just for making prototypes anymore--they're increasingly used for low-end aerospace production components, as we've covered here http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=236261 But since Stratasys' FDM is being used on test parts for Mars rovers, NASA must believe it's possible to overcome those limitations. Also, other materials have worked successfully on non-interior aircraft parts, usually processed with various forms of SLS.

NadineJ
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Re: Fascinating
NadineJ   9/14/2012 1:11:25 AM
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The Contour Crafting does look very cool. Is there any video from Made in Space. It would be great to see their anti-gravity tests.

Charles Murray
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Re: 3D printing has come a long way
Charles Murray   9/13/2012 6:07:10 PM
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To me, the most amazing thing is that this technology could be used to build "infrastructure, such as roads and landing pads." It's one thing to build components that have to handl light mechanical stresses. It's another to build structural components that have to handle big loads.

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