3D printing has been gaining popularity since being introduced for commercial consumption. People can now buy a 3D printer and use it at home! With the growing industry of 3D printing, it is inevitable that 3D printing will start to get out of this world.
History of 3D Printing
The earliest forms of 3D printing date back to the 1980s. The basis for basic 3D printing is a thermoset polymer and a machine to use it as an output. The term additive manufacturing is also synonymous with 3D printing. This term did not truly get more popularity until the early 2000s.
Recently, 3D printing has advanced to the point of printing homes or spaces inhabitable for people. MIT has spearheaded this new endeavor with the technology of a single robotic “arm.” The technology has not been released to the general public yet due to that is still in the experimental stages. The motive for creating this large-scale 3D printer was to eliminate costs in home production and also to scale back construction worker injury.
Currently, their printing machine took 13 hours to create an output similar to an open-roofed igloo. Their product used to create the space was an expanding foam. With groundbreaking technology like this new 3D printer, it has the possibility to build homes in space.
Printing in Space?
MIT’s construction printer does have the potential capabilities to be able to print in space. Their prototype runs off of both solar power and a battery system. As well, it is able to print with other materials such as ice or dirt.
Their prototype still has a lot of time to be improved but it is still a step in the direction of changing the construction industry not only here on earth but any planet that humans and technology could survive on.
Their overall goal is to create a platform that has multiple construction tools such as digging or milling, in addition to the 3D printing capabilities. They want the technology to also be self-sustaining.The MIT team wants it to work like a tree; a machine that gathers its own energy and produces an output with local materials within its own environment.