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Beth Stackpole
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3D printing has come a long way
Beth Stackpole   9/13/2012 8:10:06 AM
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Defintely out of this world examples of 3D printing. Very cool that this technology is playing a role in space exploration. It really confirms how far the materials have come in terms of choice and durability/reliability that they are even an option for such serious engineering.

Cadman-LT
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Platinum
Re: 3D printing has come a long way
Cadman-LT   9/13/2012 10:00:35 AM
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Yes Beth, I agree. It seems like a month or so ago we were talking about similar things and now here they are here. It just begs the imagination to think about 2 years from now or 5 or even 1 year. I knew this would be big, but it's blowing up! 

Cadman-LT
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Re: 3D printing has come a long way
Cadman-LT   9/13/2012 10:09:57 AM
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That Contour Crafting seems unreal. I bet that's a few years off, but then again you never know.

Cadman-LT
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Platinum
Re: 3D printing has come a long way
Cadman-LT   9/13/2012 10:15:22 AM
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I was wondering about the 0-gravity, but they have already done it. Amazing!

Cadman-LT
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Platinum
Re: 3D printing has come a long way
Cadman-LT   9/13/2012 10:20:52 AM
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I really like the electron beam freeform fabrication that seems very neat. It sounds almost like welding, but forming parts.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: 3D printing has come a long way
Ann R. Thryft   9/13/2012 12:31:52 PM
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Beth, I was surprised to discover the Stratasys/NASA project, and then 3D Systems' testing with Made in Space, which was the spark that began this slideshow. Tough stuff indeed!

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.

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.

Jennifer Campbell
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Gold
Fascinating
Jennifer Campbell   9/13/2012 8:27:51 AM
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This is fascinating, stuff, Ann. I'd like to learn more about Contour Crafing. Do you have any idea about what other cool projects they are working on?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Fascinating
Ann R. Thryft   9/13/2012 12:34:40 PM
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Jenn, Contour Crafting's potential blows my mind. I mean, 3D printing whole buildings? It's still under development and started out as a mold-making technology for constructing large industrial parts. The inventor expanded the concept to a method for building quick emergency shelters after disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina or major earthquakes. The website says it can produce structures such as houses or larger multi-unit buildings, and that "embedded in each house [are] all the conduits for electrical, plumbing and air-conditioning." That's amazing enough, but the process is also designed to use naturally occurring local materials like clay or plaster. That's a big one--no expensive engineering-grade plastic needed. Here's the inventor giving a TED talk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdbJP8Gxqog

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.

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.

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.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Fascinating
Elizabeth M   3/6/2013 7:03:21 AM
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Just had a look on this story for one I'm writing now about a 3D-printed lunar base...this is pretty amazing and I'm continuously impressed by what NASA and space scientists are devising. Just the idea of being a space scientist in and of itself is quite cool! I do hope NASA can pull some of this stuff off despite its financial woes. I suppose the influx of commercial influence and funds will help. Perhaps it's a bit frivolous and not necessarily for the benefit of mankind in general to have such high space aspriations, but I like it anyway. :)

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.

NadineJ
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Platinum
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.

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.

NadineJ
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Platinum
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.

anelinamartin
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Silver
Re: Fascinating
anelinamartin   6/11/2013 4:43:04 AM
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As we all know printers are the good source for data collection. Its a good step . Don't know what about the performance testing of printer on mars but. Its a good step. 

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Concerns about extreme Cold
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   9/13/2012 4:18:50 PM
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My initial thought about using the prototype materials was the thermal risks; meaning brittleness and prone to shattering in the extreme cold Martian temperatures. But I recalled a recent environmental test done to an SLS prototype housing.  It was placed in a cold chamber at -55°C and an impact test was run, simulating a sharp impact at extreme cold.  The housing was designed with a 2mm wall thickness, and the SLS didn't even dent, let alone shatter.  And while Martian climate can exceed -55°C, that was the lowest limit of our chamber's capability. But I'm convinced; at least for SLS.

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.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: Concerns about extreme Cold
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   9/17/2012 2:29:36 PM
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Yes, Ann; you and I have discussed several times previously the history of Rapid Proto methods, especially going way back to 3D Systems' first SLAs in the late 1980's.  But I am new to SLS prototyping (just this year) and have been Very Impressed with this material's robustness as a prototype; you can get parts just as fast as conventional SLA, but the material properties are astoundingly better.  I still have a lot to learn about them, but as I discovered, this SLS is TOUGH STUFF!

William K.
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Platinum
3D printing: a replicator, perhaps?
William K.   9/16/2012 3:02:21 PM
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Shades of Star Trek and the ever present replicators, that usually produced food ready to eat. I do have some concerns about where the feed material, with it's fairly demanding characteristics, comes from. Of course, native soil on the moon and on Mars may have properties that make it suitable for the process, but they might not.  And draqgging along the raw materials will be as heavy as bringing finished parts. MY other concern is about where the energy to fuse the powder into objects will come from. Deveoping enough heat to fuse materials does take a fair amount of heat.and that power needs to come from some place. So the additive manufacturing machine in space has some real challenges ahead for it. On earth, of course, the situation is totally different, except the question of where the materials come from is still to be answered. Possibly some version that uses course feedstock will be invented.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: 3D printing: a replicator, perhaps?
Ann R. Thryft   9/17/2012 12:15:53 PM
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William, I think those are very good points: power and material sources. However, in the case of Contour Crafting, it's designed to use naturally occurring materials, such as various forms of soil. The power concerns, however, remain.

William K.
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Platinum
Re: 3D printing: a replicator, perhaps?
William K.   9/17/2012 10:03:45 PM
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A 3D printer that could use soil or "dirt" would be more amazing than the basic concept of a 3D printer! FRom the descriptions of how the various ones work, it is a challenge to imagine using dirt as a feedstock. So if any details on that sort of system become available they would be real news.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: 3D printing: a replicator, perhaps?
Ann R. Thryft   9/18/2012 12:00:11 PM
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William, that's Contour Crafting making buildings with dirt and similar materials. And here's another AM manufacturer that wants to make buildings with a 3D printer, called D-Shape: http://www.d-shape.com/cose.htm

TJ McDermott
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Making space commonplace
TJ McDermott   9/16/2012 11:29:08 PM
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How will the astronauts demonstrate their creativity if tools can be printed, instead of being jury-rigged from tape and spare manuals?

Seriously, this could save a mission in the "...for lack of a nail..." sense.

Contour Crafting Robot is the first of the large-format 3D printers.

 

Rob_Krebs
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Iron
LCA for the Universe?
Rob_Krebs   9/26/2012 3:21:34 PM
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Thank you Anne Thryt for this amazing article. Brilliant, of course this is the enventuality of 3-D printing. (Dope slap to myself) If you were going to Mars and had a 3-D printer what plans would you bring to print? Trick question: They will send you all the plans you need via CAD files on the earth net!!! Do environmental impacts (LCA) of buildings in the future now have to consider impacts of the building on the universe!?   ;-} More at http://www.greenbuildingsolutions.org 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: LCA for the Universe?
Ann R. Thryft   9/27/2012 12:14:08 PM
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Rob_Krebs, glad you're enjoying the slideshow. I think that's a good point about what CAD designs to bring and transmitting the files you forgot by wireless comms. LCA and environmental impacts in space? We don't seem to have done much on that end yet, considering how much space junk we've left out there. Thanks--your points are well taken, although first we've got to actually build some of these things.



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