Author Topic: ESA Concept for 3D-Printing Construction of Lunar Base  (Read 4645 times)

Online Ben the Space Brit

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I don't know if this has been discussed before

As reported by the Daily Mail here: European Space Agency unveils plans for mankind's first habitable MOON BASE... built almost entirely out of lunar soil by robots

It seems to be a potential time-saver and allows upmass to be reserved for useful cargo like machinery, crew furniture and other actual mission payload rather than metal walls.  Combined with ISRU water and oxygen, it could easily make a lunar surface facility sustainable in cost terms.

The question is: can it work? How thick will those walls need to be and can lunar regolith be processed in the necessary way?
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Offline KelvinZero

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Re: ESA Concept for 3D-Printing Construction of Lunar Base
« Reply #1 on: 02/01/2013 09:38 PM »
I don't know if this has been discussed before

As reported by the Daily Mail here: European Space Agency unveils plans for mankind's first habitable MOON BASE... built almost entirely out of lunar soil by robots

It seems to be a potential time-saver and allows upmass to be reserved for useful cargo like machinery, crew furniture and other actual mission payload rather than metal walls.  Combined with ISRU water and oxygen, it could easily make a lunar surface facility sustainable in cost terms.

The question is: can it work? How thick will those walls need to be and can lunar regolith be processed in the necessary way?

I wonder how they come up with the 40 years number. Thats such a long timeframe. No one could predict where 3d printing would be by then. After a wait like that I'd be very disappointed with anything less than robots printing robots!

I wonder if tech like this could be more useful closer to home, eg building walls in the desert out of sand to reclaim land area for agriculture or something. I came across a youtube clip someone posted here quite recently that produced a bowl out of desert sand with a solar powered 3d printer. It looked quite simple: Just a big magnifying glass fusing sand in a computer controlled pattern.


Offline Lar

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Re: ESA Concept for 3D-Printing Construction of Lunar Base
« Reply #2 on: 02/01/2013 09:45 PM »
Is it just me or was that article repetitive yet really light on details?

I too question the 40 year number. Unless the reporter was using SLS launcher schedules to drive his timeline or something?

A question the article did not answer was what the binder is for the material, since it speaks of making a pulp of the regolith. That implies liquid of some sort.  I had always expected sintering would be used which doesn't.

Edit: Here's the original ESA blurbage which is better than the article...  same pix but more descriptive text: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Technology/Building_a_lunar_base_with_3D_printing

« Last Edit: 02/02/2013 04:32 PM by Lar »
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Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: ESA Concept for 3D-Printing Construction of Lunar Base
« Reply #3 on: 02/02/2013 07:06 AM »
{snip}
A question the article did not answer was what the binder is for the material, since it speaks of making a pulp of the regolith. That implies liquid of some sort.  I had always expected sintering would be used which doesn't.

The binder just needs to be something that melts.  Regolith contains calcium, which melts at 1115 K, 842 C, 1548 F.  Aluminium and its oxide also have medium melting points.

Offline Robert Thompson

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Offline KelvinZero

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Re: ESA Concept for 3D-Printing Construction of Lunar Base
« Reply #5 on: 02/02/2013 11:43 PM »
Here is that clip I mentioned earlier.

I wonder why they can't just do something like this solar sinter project.

« Last Edit: 02/02/2013 11:45 PM by KelvinZero »

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: ESA Concept for 3D-Printing Construction of Lunar Base
« Reply #6 on: 02/03/2013 06:28 AM »
http://phys.org/news/2013-01-lunar-base-3d.html

That article says
Quote
"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.

So magnesium oxide and an unknown binding salt.

Offline Lar

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Re: ESA Concept for 3D-Printing Construction of Lunar Base
« Reply #7 on: 02/03/2013 01:26 PM »
http://phys.org/news/2013-01-lunar-base-3d.html

That article says
Quote
"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.

So magnesium oxide and an unknown binding salt.

I'm coming to think that the use of the terms "pulp", "paper" and (to a lesser extent) "ink" are purely for analogy purposes, especially pulp. Further, I was apparently drawing too many incorrect inferences from them. There's no need for water at all, if this salt is something that melts at low enough temperatures to be practical.

Quite unlike the concrete material used in some of the vids from Foster+partners about their other work with printing.

This is an interesting bio of Norman Foster, founder of Foster+partners (I read it in print since I get The Economist)

http://moreintelligentlife.com/content/arts/norman-fosters-new-world?page=full

His firm did the terminal for Spaceport America, it seems. There are pics in this thread somewhere http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=21895.0 and more pics here: http://www.arcspace.com/21926 ...among other places
« Last Edit: 02/03/2013 01:33 PM by Lar »
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY