Not too long ago, we reported about the groundbreaking research being done by Prof. Bandyopadhyay. His group at WSU determined that lunar regolith would be a suitable material for 3D printing.
In the time since that post, a London-based architecture firm, Foster + Partners, in conjunction with the European Space Agency (ESA) , has begun research developing a 3D printed lunar regolith habitat for future lunar colonies.
From the Foster + Partners website, “The practice has designed a lunar base to house four people, which can offer protection from meteorites, gamma radiation and high temperature fluctuations. The base is first unfolded from a tubular module that can be transported by space rocket. An inflatable dome then extends from one end of this cylinder to provide a support structure for construction. Layers of regolith are then built up over the dome by a robot-operated 3D printer to create a protective shell.
To ensure strength while keeping the amount of binding “ink” to a minimum, the shell is made up of a hollow, closed cellular structure similar to foam. The geometry of the structure was designed by Foster + Partners in collaboration with consortium partners – it is groundbreaking in demonstrating the potential of 3D printing to create structures that are close to natural biological systems.”
As a part of their research the firm has created a 1.5-ton model of their vision and a small scale 3D printing test hasbegun. To simulate the environment of the moon, Foster + Partners team has also been conducting their test in a vacuum chamber.
Read More at Foster + Partners
Images Courtesy of ESA via Foster + Partners