MX3D 3D prints lunar soil for ESA to test 3D printing on the Moon –


The European Space Agency (ESA) supports an architecture firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in the development of a habitat to be built on the moon. A skeleton floor prototype has been developed by a metal 3D printing company MX3Dfamous earlier this year for his 3D-printed metal bridge in Amsterdam, built with wire-arc additive manufacturing (WAAM), which uses a robotic arm to melt metal wire into a self-supporting object.

For the floor system, engineers had to meet construction constraints while maintaining structural integrity. By delineating stress map analysis and an optimized continuous topology, MX3D scientists created a structure with a smooth band pattern design that extends from the center outward, allowing these cross sections to be printed at reduced thickness without losing structural integrity.

The floor was printed using MX3D’s proprietary WAAM method with 308LSi stainless steel, a popular material in the aerospace industries. The print lasted 246 hours, weighed 395 kg and was 4.5 m long. Six separate segments make up the overall floor design, these pieces are individually printed and then welded together, the structure is held together by three columns and features a series of floor panels.

Advenit Makaya, Advanced Manufacturing Engineer at ESA, said of the project: “This is a remarkable achievement by MX3D, which further highlights the potential of this additive manufacturing technique for a growing range of applications. space applications. The design flexibility and the ability to combine the printed structure with on-board monitoring systems – as demonstrated in the 3D printed bridge in Amsterdam – is worth investigating for applications in space structures.

“It was a great opportunity to show the potential of our technology for manufacturing lightweight steel structures with ESA and SOM,” explains Gijs van der Velden, CEO of MX3D. “This was a perfect project for MX3D to leverage their experience in printing topology-optimized metal structures. Achieving optimal use of materials is a corporate goal at MX3D because, just like when designing space applications, every pound reduced in an MX3D design is a direct gain for the feasibility of a project.

Spatial construction is believed to benefit greatly from the convenience and customization that 3D printing offers. In theory, printers can be installed and used to build entire dwellings, even using the planet’s own regolith as raw material. Spacecraft could potentially include 3D printing systems allowing astronauts to print parts or tools if needed, as is already happening on the International Space Station.

NASA itself is currently supporting 36 projects related to lunar 3D printing. As part of its Artemis project, which aims to send astronauts back to the moon by 2024 to explore the south pole, NASA is also looking for ways to inhabit the moon long-term. Last year, the space agency hired a construction 3D printing company ICON prototype a lunar base. Called Project Olympus, the company is working to develop buildings that; can be printed directly on the moon, withstand extraterrestrial conditions, use materials found on the moon, and leave no waste. Such technology, once developed, could also prove useful for sustainable construction here on Earth.


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