BY TYLER KOSLOW ON FRI, SEPTEMBER 11, 2015 · 3D PRINTING, AEROSPACE, ARCHITECTURE, DESIGN, EUROPE, NEWS, ROBOTICS 1 COMMENT
With the international race to outer space heating up, we’ve seen 3D printing become one of the most promising technologies to potentially build us livable habitats on Mars. Whether it’s a 3D printed drone searching the red planet for the most habitable areas or humans sending machines up to manufacture 3D settlements with the planet’s surface, additive manufacturing is sure to be included in the process of making a life-sustaining ecosystem for humans on planets other than Earth.
The newest contribution to this outer space adventure is coming out of France, wher a group of scientists, architects, and 3D printing experts have come together to conceptualize the SFERO. The SFERO is a shortened French name representing the shape of a sphere and the natural properties of water and iron, all of which are big components to this concept. Water and iron are meant to symbolize the connection between Mars and Earth, by using resources that are prominent on both planets, the SFERO team hopes that their concept will bring on a smooth transition for those who may eventually call Mars their home planet.
The construction of the SFERO, which is accomplished through additive manufacturing, is stabilized by a double-sphere model, meant to provide efficient resistance to the pressure and mass that exists on the Red Planet. The construction will begin with two independently operating KuKa robotic arms, which start the building process by burrowing a drill into the Martian terrain. The robotic arms will then go on to 3D print the two shells that make up the habitat, then in a step by step process, will manufacture the foundation, inner design, and, finally, the insulation within the spherical construct. The insulation is layered with Martian materials and water, which is the component that keeps the inside of the SFERO livable for human beings. Iron and water are intrinsically valuable resources that benefit the SFERO greatly. Iron through its strong mechanical properties provides resistance against the lack of pressure, and water due to its transparency, protection from the sun, and like iron, its resistance to the lack of pressure on Mars.
The functions behind both of the KuKa robotic arm
The main KuKa robotic arm that would construct the SFERO uses laser metal deposition manufacturing (LMD) to deposit the powdered iron-based material, simultaneously melting it down into the plasma stage, which would strongly bond the habitat’s material together. The other independently operating robotic arm would deal with the bulk of the drilling, material removal, and filling of the insulating tarp layer. Together, the KuKa arms would, ideally, create the habitat with more speed and grace than one robotic arm ever could. In turn, the SFERO team has developed a well thought-out 3D printing concepts for a Martian habitat, and seems to be a promising candidate for construction, once we actually take these various concepts and start manufacturing livable human homes on the planet of Mars.
about THE AUTHOR
Tyler Koslow is a contributing writer for 3D Printing Industry, and has also written content for Dell, Brooklyn Magazine, and more. Tyler is also a habitual instrument player, photo taker, and fun haver. Tyler received a Bachelor’s degree studying English-Creative Writing at the University of Central Florida in 2008.