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How do we 3D print a moon base?

After 40 years of absence, our companion lures again. This time there are advanced plans for a lunar base. Space agency ESA is also involved. Will 3D printing finally fulfill our long-cherished dream of human habitation on another celestial body?

Building a base on the moon seems like an insane plan at first glance. For example, for concrete you need water, a compound that is extremely scarce on the moon, not to mention limestone, which comes from fossilized remains of aquatic organisms. A construction crew has been building for weeks and must be provided with water and food. Appearances are deceptive, however, due to a technical breakthrough achieved about a decade ago.

For example, ESA thinkers envision a 3D-printed moon base made of processed regolith. Source: ESA

It appears that the abundant lunar regolite or lunar dust, a layer of powder several meters thick, can be used with a microwave in moon concrete. lunarcrete be changed [1]. The loose particles bond together and form a solid material. About what happens in an SLS 3D printer.
ESA uses a more traditional system. An industrial consortium led by the European space agency ESA, with the visionary 3D house developer Enrico Dini as the best-known participant, has succeeded in developing a 3D printer that can process moon dust into more or less habitable shelters. This printer does work with some materials that are not available on the moon, such as magnesium oxide and an unspecified salt solution, in which the scarce water is probably the solvent. ESA plans to solve the water problem by building the moon base in Shackleton crater at the south pole of the moon. There must be small supplies of water ice in the eternal darkness of the Shackleton crater floor. Another attractive side of the Shackleton Crater is that there is a “peak of eternal light” here. Not a superfluous luxury on the moon, where around two weeks of darkness alternate with two weeks of sun and so would require enormous amounts of batteries. The house proposed by ESA could be built in about a week.

A more elegant method is of course to make structures without water, by melting regolith with only bundles of sunlight. The German artist Markus Kayser did exactly that, only then with Sahara sand. Indeed, according to ESA, their next project will use a beam of concentrated sunlight [3]. Indeed, this would drastically reduce the amount of material to be carried from Earth. The long-cherished dream of only working with lunar material comes within reach.

1. LA Lawrence and TT Meek, Microwave Sintering of Lunar Soil: Properties, Theory, and Practice, ASCE, 2005
2. Building a lunar base with 3D printing, ESA, 2013
3. 3D printing a lunar base, ESA, 2014

ESA wil maanbasis 3D printen

Een interessant project van de European Space Agency – ESA, die 3d printtechnologie wil gebruiken om een maanbasis te printen uit maanstof om zo de maan bewoonbaar te maken.

En hier het originele artikel van

Lunar base made with 3D printing


Setting up a lunar base could be made much simpler by using a 3D printer to build it from local materials. Industrial partners including renowned architects Foster + Partners have joined with ESA to test the feasibility of 3D printing using lunar soil.

“Terrestrial 3D printing technology has produced entire structures,” said Laurent Pambaguian, heading the project for ESA.

“Our industrial team investigated if it could similarly be employed to build a lunar habitat.”

Foster + Partners devised a weight-bearing ‘catenary’ dome design with a cellular structured wall to shield against micrometeoroids and space radiation, incorporating a pressurised inflatable to shelter astronauts.

A hollow closed-cell structure – reminiscent of bird bones – provides a good combination of strength and weight.

The base’s design was guided in turn by the properties of 3D-printed lunar soil, with a 1.5 tonne building block produced as a demonstration.

“3D printing offers a potential means of facilitating lunar settlement with reduced logistics from Earth,” added Scott Hovland of ESA’s human spaceflight team.

“The new possibilities this work opens up can then be considered by international space agencies as part of the current development of a common exploration strategy.”

“As a practice, we are used to designing for extreme climates on Earth and exploiting the environmental benefits of using local, sustainable materials,” remarked Xavier De Kestelier of Foster + Partners Specialist Modelling Group. “Our lunar habitation follows a similar logic.”

The UK’s Monolite supplied the D-Shape printer, with a mobile printing array of nozzles on a 6 m frame to spray a binding solution onto a sand-like building material.

3D ‘printouts’ are built up layer by layer – the company more typically uses its printer to create sculptures and is working on artificial coral reefs to help preserve beaches from energetic sea waves.

“First, we needed to mix the simulated lunar material with magnesium oxide. This turns it into ‘paper’ we can print with,” explained Monolite founder Enrico Dini.

“Then for our structural ‘ink’ we apply a binding salt which converts material to a stone-like solid.

“Our current printer builds at a rate of around 2 m per hour, while our next-generation design should attain 3.5 m per hour, completing an entire building in a week.”

More information:
-) Eerdere artikel op visionair over 3D printen

advertising film for 3D printing

We volgen hier de ontwikkelingen van 3D printen op de voet. Tot nu toe leek het 3D printen nog erg in een soort pioniers/ ontdekkingsstadia te zijn. Dat er nu toch ook heel duidelijk verdere stappen worden gezet naar de grote massa wordt ondermeer duidelijk door dit strakke reclamefilmpje vol met Hipsters over 3D printen.


Het lijkt er met dit soort marketing op dat 3D printen wel eens heel snel de huiskamers van de gewone Nederlander binnen kan komen. Andere interessante websites waar je nu ook al gewoon online 3D geprinte producten kunt bestellen naast Shapeways zijn o.a.: and Wat het bestellen van dit soort producten betreft ligt de gehele digitale infrastructuur er eigenlijk al. Hier lijken dus ook maar amper hindernissen te zijn.

Interessant is verder dat veel van deze verkopende websites van iedereen goede 3D modellen accepteren en je betaald krijgt elke keer als een klant bij zo een website jouw model print via hun. Mocht je dus tijd over hebben dan kan het altijd de moeite zijn om jezelf te leren 3D modelleren en zo op termijn wat extra bij te verdienen. Onder andere Google SketchUpTinkercad and 3DTin zijn allemaal gratis programma`s waarmee je jezelf kunt leren 3D modelleren.

Related items:
-) Eerdere artikelen over 3D Printen op Visionair
-) Youtube over 3d Printing and Additive Manufacturing
-) over 3d Printing 

More 3D printing

Nog een interessante presentatie over 3d printing of additive manufacturing. Voorbeelden van 3d printen van dagelijkse gebruiksproducten, medische toepassingen, kunst, mode, toepassingen in de bouw, de productie van motoren etc. De mogelijkheden lijken werkelijk onbeperkt te zijn. Daarnaast komen er ook interessante vragen aan bod over wat dit soort technologie kan betekenen qua milieu impact, of wat er gaat gebeuren met copyright of tot slot wat gaan we doen met alle fabrieken die dicht kunnen en alle arbeiders die niet langer nodig zijn in deze fabrieken.


Voor de mensen die zelf willen leren 3d ontwerpen te maken kan de gratis software van Google SketchUp, Tinkercad and 3DTin wellicht uitkomst bieden. Ook een goede 3d scanner is handig, deze scanner maakt 3d computermodellen van datgene wat je scant. Deze ingescande modellen kun je vervolgens aanpassen en 3d printen. Daarnaast zijn op (met vestiging in Eindhoven NL), en op 3d geprinte producten te vinden die vandaag de dag voor consumenten al te koop zijn.

Wat voor mogelijkheden en toepassingen kunnen de lezers van visionair hier allemaal nog verzinnen voor 3d scanning en printing?

Related items:
-) Eerdere artikelen over 3D Printen op Visionair
-) Youtube over 3d Printing and Additive Manufacturing
-) over 3d Printing 

Videos: 3D printers print working airplane and car smaller than a human hair

In these two videos we find two examples of the possibilities of 3D printing in the field of micro engineering. Given sufficient energy and raw materials, immense quantities of valuable products can be manufactured at virtually zero costs. Production will never be the same again.

In the first video, from the University of Vienna, a small race car smaller than a human hair. Unfortunately, as far as is known, this does not work.

In the second video a plane that - believe it or not, including moving parts - has rolled out of the 3D printer in its entirety.
This feat is credited to Jim Scanlan of the English University of Southampton. Only the microchips and probably also the motor and battery are probably not printed. The total production took one week: two design days and five printing days. The team believes that future designs, variations on this design, can be created in minutes.

New Scientist

2D becomes 3D with pen

A pen as a 3D printer. Watch a 2D drawing of a flower on a stone turn into a three-dimensional flower after immersion in a solution of potassium persulphate.

3D pens have been around for some time. They form a kind of hand-held 3D printer, fed with a roll of 3D filament that can be used to draw shapes in the air.

This technique works differently, with two types of material. One type, the 'glue' (here: the black ink), adheres to both the substrate and the second type. The second type, here red, contains a water-repellent agent and therefore detaches when the solution squeezes under the ink.

In its original form, the ink was too weak and the object lost its shape. The inventors remedied this by adding iron to the water-repellent ink. This reacts with the persulfate ions in the solution and forms a hard layer on the outside. Thanks to this layer, the flower retains its shape.

Colleagues elsewhere in the world of South Korean inventors Sumin Lee and Seo Woo Song call the discovery a breakthrough. It is now possible to send 3D objects by letter post. The recipient can place these in a development solution and let the 3D object dry. They also see many applications for the manufacture of electronics. That is, if it succeeds in printing electronic circuits.

And for creative artists of course.

This is just a simple example. The source contains much more complex designs. Such as butterflies that can flap their wings under the influence of a magnetic field.


Sumin Lee and Seo Woo Song, Direct 2D-to-3D transformation of pen drawings, Science Advances, 2021

Video: extremely fast 3D printer

In this video, accelerated 7x, you see an object emerge from a bath of UV-sensitive resin in an almost magical way. Unlike the well-known 3D printers that work with molten plastic or laser sintering, this type of 3D printer works by bundling laser light at the points in the resin bath where the object is to be created.

Resin printers have been around for some time, but this printer is capable of printing in three dimensions at the same time. With this new technique, developed by startup Carbon3D, use is made of the combination of UV light and the manipulation of the oxygen content. An annoying feature of 3D printing is that the speed is so low. This technique, which prints objects in five minutes, would be a breakthrough for impatient people, most. However, only some resins can be used as material.

Developed the first 3D printer ever to print electronics

3D printers nu zijn erg nuttig om voorwerpen in allerlei vormen en maten te maken, bijvoorbeeld een werkende opwindklok, maar afgezien daarvan, kan je er nog weinig mee. Electronica, bijvoorbeeld, ligt off limits. Daar lijkt nu verandering in te zijn gekomen.

In samenwerking met printgigant Autodesk heeft Voxel8 nu een printer ontwikkeld, die in staat is met elektrisch geleidend plastic te werken. Een tweede zeer waardevolle toevoeging is de mogelijkheid, de print gedurende het printproces stil te leggen, waardoor de gebruiker elektronische onderdelen, denk aan motortjes, printplaten of condensatoren, er in kan leggen. Na afronding van het printproces ontstaan zo apparaten, die zonder 3D printen niet gemaakt hadden kunnen worden.

Voxel8: de eerste commerciële elektronicaprinter.

Voor consumenten die weinig van elektronica afweten, vrijwel iedereen dus, of voor onbemande toepassingen in bijvoorbeeld ruimtevaartuigen, zou in een wat verdere toekomst ook een robotarmpje en magazijnen met standaard weerstandjes, condensatoren en andere elektroniche onderdelen toegevoegd kunnen worden. Dit zou echt ongekende mogelijkheden opleveren. Je zou dan wetenschappelijke meetinstrumenten ter plekke op een planeet of asteroïde uit kunnen printen. Een fiasco zoals op komeet 67/P met de Rosetta-missie zou tot het verleden behoren. Ook zou je zo zelfreplicerende mijnbouwfabrieken kunnen printen.

'3D printer can save households thousands of euros'

With a consumer 3D printer, which can print small plastic objects, consumers can save thousands of euros in purchases. According to some researchers, who looked very representative on Google Store to see what household items on 3D design site Thingiverse actually cost at the commercial level. What will the economic food chain look like in the future?

Are 3D printers worth the investment?
3D printers require a lot: in addition to the (hefty) purchase price of at least around a thousand euros to expensive ABS or PLA (polylactic acid; biodegradable) input strips, calculate around 20 euros to 50 dollars per kilo and of course the costs for the electricity, which consumes a few hundred watts during printing (soon a few kWh per print). On the other hand, 3D printing makes an hours-long search over the internet, or even worse: at the specialized retail trade, superfluous. Another nice extra is that the properties of the object can be refined by the consumer behind his computer tools. Does that tasteless Disney cartoon on your dish brush annoy you and find yourself the pinnacle of creation? Then you print your head on it anyway. Or someone else's, or your dead dog. On your toilet brush you can then print the face of Hitler or another favorite bad guy.

Continuum Fashion (source) designed this 3D printed shoe.

So to be honest, I wonder if these researchers are right. The temptation is probably just too great to design completely useless, bizarre things. There will probably be a large market for a device that can convert used plastic back into strips. Still, the 3D printer seems like a keeper, because it is an enabling technology. In a sense, the device replaces a complete factory. It also allows for things previously thought impossible, such as fabricating biologically structured intricate donor organs with the cells of the patient.

Revenue models
Another interesting question is who will benefit the most from the 3D printing market. With 2D printers, these were the suppliers of printer ink; with PCs, the most profit is made by the supplier of the operating system and user software. This will probably be the printing material for 3D printers. At the moment, a standard seems to be developing around the use of plastics ABS and PLA.

There is no manufacturer that owns the monopoly of ABS. In other applications, ABS is increasingly being replaced by the much less toxic types of plastic polystyrene and polypropylene [2]; given the toxic gases that are released during the processing of ABS, this also seems to be happening with 3D printers.
The biodegradable polylactic acid (PLA) seems to be doing better. The disadvantage of PLA is the higher price per kilogram and that PLA is produced by only two major manufacturers (including a DSM subsidiary). ABS is also more flexible and tougher than PLA. The main disadvantage of PLA is the low glass transition temperature, ie the temperature at which it becomes soft, around 50 degrees. So don't pour hot coffee into your PLA cup. However, there are PLA types (such as a 50:50 mixture of left-handed and right-handed variants PLLA and PDLA) that only soften around 110 degrees or more. Insiders therefore expect that PLA will be used more and more. [3] 3D printing is in full development; there is therefore a good chance that more suitable materials will be developed than these two.

1. BT Wittbrodt, AG Glover, J. Laureto, GC Anzalone, D. Oppliger, JL Irwin, JM Pearce (2013), Life-cycle economic analysis of distributed manufacturing with open-source 3-D printers, Mechatronics (2013)
2. Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene Market (ABS) Will Reach USD 26.1 Billion in 2018: Transparency Market Research (2013)
3. What material should I use for 3D printing? - 3D printing for beginners (??)

TED: 3D printed jumbo jet

A short TED video of less than 6 minutes in which Bastian Schaefer looking at the future of aircraft building through the technology of 3D printing.

Designer Bastian Schaefer shows off a speculative design for the future of jet planes, with a skeleton inspired by strong, flexible, natural forms and by the needs of the world's, ahem, growing population. Imagine an airplane that's full of light and space - and built up from generative parts in a 3D printer.

Bastian Schaefer and a team of designers at Airbus have been imagining the high-concept future of the jet airlplane - in a future with less fuel and more passengers.

How many years will it take for the first 3D printed cars to drive around and planes to fly around?

Related articles and information:
-) Previously articles about 3D printing on visionary