American physicists and engineers have developed a mobile 3D printer with the aim of manufacturing imposing structures in space. Thanks to its ease of use, this innovation could notably promote the presence of humans on Mars.
A prototype of a mobile 3D printer already being tested
One of the essential conditions for the exploration and colonization of Mars will be the supply of energy. Indeed, humans will need electricity to support their missions, but also to obtain heat, oxygen, drinking water or even grow food and print 3D parts. There are more and more 3D printing solutions aimed at supporting the conquest of Mars.
A Taylor University publication on April 26, 2022 in the journal Engineering EngrXiv Archive details one such innovation. The researchers have indeed designed a 3D printer called Mobile Gantry. A working prototype, the Mud Dauber, is being tested on the university premises.
According to the project leaders, the printer in question can generate structures that are solid, efficient and large in size. Above all, the machine has small mobile robots allowing it to move on any surface, hence its name. Thus, the Mobile Gantry is able to travel distances in order to build structures in various places on the red planet.
Very encouraging initial results
“During initial testing, this ‘Mud Dauber’ design was found to be able to traverse rough terrain and use a three-degree-of-freedom Cartesian positioning system to extrude a suspension of sulfur concrete into structures. complex”, can we read in an article by the media 3D Printing Industry published on May 3, 2022.
Building structures larger than itself is the goal of the Mobile Gantry. It can also move on pre-printed surfaces, its wheels being able to align with interior walls and partitions. Additionally, the prototype the researchers are testing can also print structures on irregular surfaces using its built-in mobility system.
The researchers believe that this first machine gave very encouraging results, in particular thanks to a certain ease of use. Indeed, the Mobile Gantry allows simple and practically risk-free control while ensuring good print quality and fairly high print speeds.