It’s exciting that in recent years a host of serious projects are being launched, directed at the goal of colonizing another planet in the solar system. From the groundbreaking Curiosity rover exploring the surface of Mars, to the reality TV funded Mars One project, the world is pushing hard to put the first permanent inhabitants on the surface of another world. Now Enrico Dini, the inventor of a massive 3D printer called D-Shape, is teaming up with the European Space Agency and building innovator Foster + Partners in an attempt to solve one of the most challenging aspects of colonizing another planet: lifting a heavy habitat off earth and getting it there.
The team’s inspired solution doesn’t deliver a habitat from earth at all. Instead they are looking to use Enrico Dini’s 3D printer to construct buildings on site using the local soil as its printing material. This would drastically reduce the amount of materials needing transport to the distant location and would make expanding the base far faster and cheaper. Looking to use the technology in colonizing the moon, Dini created a simulated lunar soil mixed with magnesium oxide to create a base material. Then, using structural salt as a binding agent, he was able to create a stone-like solid. Just how fast will the printer work?
“Our current printer builds at a rate of around two meters per hour,” Dini tells Co. Design. “Our next-generation design should attain 3.5 meters per hour, completing an entire building in a week.”
Knowing the current capabilities of 3D printers at a small scale, this technology has the potential to create buildings far more massive, structurally strong than any we could hope to lift off the surface of earth… and hey, they won’t have to be shaped like a rocket. To learn more about the project, read more at this report from the European Space Agency.