Phase 2 of NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is now complete. The U.S. space agency has announced details of teams working on the project that could facilitate deep space exploration, while also advancing construction techniques on Earth.
The Level 2 Beam Member competition is the second of three competitions from Phase 2. Competitors were required to 3D print a beam that could be used in the construction of an off-world habitat.
The materials used were a mix of recycled goods and a Martian soil simulant. Each team was scored against criteria included the material composition and the load the beam could sustain before failure.
“Recyclable plastics were used in the top three scoring teams, indicating that a thermoplastic concrete material may be viable for 3-D printing habitats on Mars,” said Rob Meuller, senior technologist for advanced projects development at the Swamp Works laboratory at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Space concrete has applications on earth
The thermoplastic concrete could be made in space from discarded packaging material or “even created on Mars using the carbon dioxide atmosphere and hydrogen from water found in the soil,” says Meuller. “Such concrete materials could also have applications on Earth while using discarded plastic trash,” the senior technologist added.
Lex Akers, dean of the Caterpillar College of Engineering and Technology at Bradley University said, “These competitors are working to advance critical systems needed for human space exploration.”
We are on the edge of developing new, innovative and disruptive ideas that could change our future. This type of work will allow us to explore new ideas as we partner in creating solutions for our world and beyond.
Moon X Construction take 1st place
While the competition was open to all, only teams based in the U.S. were eligible for a share of the $200,000 prize fund.
The overall winners of the sub-competition were Moon X Construction from Seoul, South Korea.
1st place: Moon X Construction of Seoul, South Korea (International team, not eligible for prize money)
2nd place: Form Forge of Oregon State University, Corvallis – $67,465
3rd place: Foster +Partners | Branch Technology of Chattanooga, Tennessee – $63,783 (earned first place and $85,930 in Phase 2: Level 1)
4th place: University of Alaska of Fairbanks – $35,573 (earned second place and $14,070 in Phase 2: Level 1)
5th place: CTL Group Mars of Skokie, Illinois – $34,202
6th place: ROBOCON of Singapore (International team, not eligible for prize money)
Readers of 3D Printing Industry will be familiar with Branch Technology from their work on creating the largest 3D printed pavilions in the world for last year’s Design Miami competition.
The next phase of the competition will see teams 3D print a domed structure. Qualification is based on performance of the previous stages During this phase the teams will also be assessed on how sample of their material performs under crush testing.
Featured image shows NASA’s planned journey to Mars.