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3D Printing Making Possible: The Conquest of Planet Mars

Launching Rockets and Building Intergalactic Communities

Much has been said about pollution and global warming that are greatly distressing mother Earth. Her ozone layer is continually being destroyed, increasing the planet’s average temperature to heights like never before. Sooner, the earth may be experiencing catastrophic changes untenable for future generations. Now that rapid technological advancements and the development of machine learning and artificial intelligence are on the horizon, could it be possible that a habitable planet can be found in the galaxy?

Some startup companies are at the forefront of the aerospace industry due to their advanced integration of intelligent robotics and cutting-edge 3D printing technology into the manufacturing process. For example, they are able to 3D print rockets, using special 3D printers capable of printing rocket parts up to 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide.

Using additive manufacturing by the aerospace industry has several advantages. It can speed up the innovation process as several iterations of the same design can easily be built and tested. The top startup can build rockets in a fraction of the time normally required. The parts manufactured are much lighter and stronger, simplifying the fabrication process and leading to improved performance.

Some companies are going beyond making rocket parts. They plan to 3D print entire houses optimized for living on the surface of Mars. A project involves using a stationary rover to build a vertical habitat from materials readily found on the surface of Mars, as per NASA’s 3D-printed habitat challenge. Rockets can also be reused resulting in a fraction of the cost it usually takes to carry out space missions.

Beyond launching rockets from Earth, there are plans of building a rocket in 60 days. There are future plans where 3D printers could be launched and assembled on the surface of Mars and materials can be sent from Mars back to Earth. Mars, due to its low gravitational field, can also be a launch site for exploring parts of the Milky Way. We see now that technology integration and collaboration among the major players in additive technology is the key to the rapid advancements in the aerospace industry.


3D Printing

How 3D Printing is still Changing the World

From Industry to Industry

How has additive manufacturing impacted every industry in the world? Let us explore all of the fascinating ways 3D printing is changing our world.

Improved Healthcare

3D printing technology is able to print customized prosthetics for patients, develop surgical cutting and drill guides, or even replicas of bones, organs, and blood vessels of the individual patient. For the patient, this helps cut down on the costs and time of procedures significantly. 3D printing technology will be able to create personalized organs, skin grafts or mechanical parts to print targeted nanoparticles, food, and pills that are adapted to one’s specific microbiome and physiology.

3D printing can mimic a human heart using human tissue that includes vessels, collagen, and biological molecules. 3D printed organs would directly lead to faster transplants, which would go on to save countless lives. Lately, 3D printing has come to the rescue of medical frontliners fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saving the Environment

3D printing could impact the environment that range from helping injured animals in repairing fragile ecosystems. Directly 3D printing can reduce waste material, offering more sustainable industrial manufacturing alternatives, making it easier for these same manufacturers to produce things locally further curbing our reliance on fossil fuels in the long run. Finally, 3D printing has been used to study environmental degradation. More researchers are looking to 3D printing to solve complex environmental issues.

Provide Instant Homes

3D printing is changing the way we build. Many companies around the world have used 3D printing technologies to construct commercial complexes and homes. Houses can be built using a giant 3D printer for the fraction of the time and cost of building a real home.

Helping Automakers Make Cars

One of the significant benefits of 3D printing is that it’ss a powerful tool for rapid prototyping. Car makers use 3D printing for rapid prototyping to make parts for testing. 3D printing is also helping car manufacturers create custom, complex and high-performance parts. They can create far more detailed, micro-scale precision parts. In fact, entire vehicles can be 3D printed too.

Changing Fashion

Established and young designers can prototype ideas much faster and even design their own unique fashion-forward creations. Brands such as Adidas have tapped 3D printing technology to design better and more comfortable shoes for consumers. 3D printing will open the gates to hyper customization.

Changing the Way People Eat

3D printers that can create edible dishware and tasty food. The 3D printing food industry is still very young, but has a lot of huge potential. You can print pizza, pasta, pastries, and even sandwiches. There are even now pop-up restaurants that offer 3D printed food experiences.

To Mars and Beyond

3D printing technology has already played a major role in the aerospace industry. 3D printing could be an excellent way to make trips to space cheaper and lighter. Even supplies and spare parts can be manufactured while in space. Being able to 3D print food supplies for astronauts could make longer trips much more manageable. Now NASA is currently revolutionizing how liquid rocket engines are made.


drone in sky

3D Printing Technology and the Aerospace Industry: Part Two

Drones and Satellites Benefit from 3D Printing

Satellite engineers at Airbus used 3D printing to create a titanium frame able to withstand temperature ranges of -170 to 100 degrees Celsius. Production costs were reduced by as much as 20%, creating a lighter and geometrically optimized product compared to previous iterations of the satellite. The startup Stratodyne utilizes rapid-prototyping methods with their filament to create bespoke stratospheric satellites that can be deployed in a few hours in close proximity to their targeted location.

The satellites can produce everything from asset monitoring to scientific measurements. These sustainable alternatives to satellites are even able to be used for telecommunications, remote sensing, or geospatial data collection. Unlike conventional satellites, which require months of testing, millions of dollars, and weeks to achieve orbit, StratoSats can be deployed in less than 24 hours for only a small cost. The company is currently developing near-space drones capable of extended duration flights as a cheap alternative to satellites.

3D Printed Rockets can take Humans to Mars

NASA and Virgin Orbit have begun testing a 3D printed rocket combustion chamber. Virgin Orbit uses its materials to air-launch rockets that generally carry small satellites into space. Virgin Orbit tapped NASA’s experts for the goal of creating a 3D printed combustion chamber, considered a rocket engine’s heart. Fuel and a source of oxygen called an oxidizer are mixed and exploded inside the chamber. The team was able to successfully test the combustion chamber using high-pressure liquid oxygen/kerosene propellants. The combustion chamber delivered more than 2,000 pounds of thrust successfully in nearly two-dozen, 60-second test firings. Normally, it takes many months to manufacture, test and deliver a conventional combustion chamber. 3D printing considerably reduced time.

3D Printing will make Trips to Deep Space More Manageable

According to NASA, to facilitate the living conditions of the astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS), which is only about 400 kilometers above the earth, annually the ISS needs to be provided with 3,175 kilos of spare parts, 13,154 kilos of spaceflight hardware spares, and another 17,690 kilos of spares ready to go at any time. But this is not practical or realistic on trips into the Moon and Mars. Even with enough supplies it would be extraordinarily costly and far from efficient. NASA In-Space Manufacturing (ISM) is currently investigating ways 3D printing technology could literally lighten the load of mission in space. They have developed fused filament fabrication 3D techniques, which involve feeding a continuous thread of plastic through a heated extruder and onto a tray layer by layer to create a three-dimensional object.

Currently, there is research exploring the most effectual methods of 3D printing in space, allowing astronauts to print simple tools, such as a wrench, or space food and other biological needs. Ultimately, ISM is critical for future exploration missions, and testing these manufacturing systems on the space station paves the way to enable those missions to be more independent of Earth.

Space agencies around the world look forward to all the potential ways 3D printing technology can be applied to the future of space travel. In the future, 3D printing could play a vital role in establishing long term colonies on Mars. By combining AI and robotics, additive manufacturing could play a crucial role in the creation of long term civilizations.



3D Printing Technology and the Aerospace Industry: Part One

From Airplane Parts To NASA Spacecrafts

Annual additive manufacturing grows about 24% each year, with the 3D printing market expected to reach approximately $21 billion dollars worldwide. The market for additive manufacturing is growing at breakneck speeds driven by an expansive new wave of entrepreneurship, and more effective 3D printing materials, techniques, and technology. 3D printing has changed, disrupted every industry across the globe. It has changed the way we design and produce clothes, cars, kitchens, and whole homes.

One industry benefits largely from 3D printing and that’s aerospace. Since 1989, aerospace has adopted the emerging technology gaining steam over the next couple of decades. Contributing to 16% of 3D printing overall revenues in 2015, additive manufacturing is being used to help with commercial airplane production, the creation of new spacecraft, and even the production of satellites. The technology is helping humans travel from country to country, to the moon, and beyond. In fact, it could eventually help our species colonize new planets.

Like many other industries, 3D printing is fascinating because it allows companies to prototype ideas fast, or create fully functioning elements at a fraction of the cost and in significantly less time than standard manufacturing methods. Hyper-customization will enable engineers to print parts on demand to fit any potential design challenge or repair job. In short, the aerospace industry is using this opportunity to produce expensive parts lighter, more reliable, and quickly than ever before.

So, how has 3D printing been used in the aerospace industry?

For one, commercial planes are starting to use 3D printed parts. 3D printing can reduce the weight of some aircraft by as much as 40-60%, In fact, a single element designed and manufactured with 3D printing could minimize air drag by 2.1%, which in turn decrease fuel costs by 5.41%. Airbus has fitted their A350 XWB aircraft with over 1,000+ 3D printed parts. Also, companies like Boeing and Airbus can speed up production. Filling all of the necessary orders of commercial planes, with both companies having 5,000-8,000 planes backlogged annually, is a challenge. It has been estimated that Boeing, so far, has used 60,000 parts for its planes.


3D Printed Brain Implants: Towards Relieving Neurologic Conditions

Better, Softer and Safer Brain Implants

Brain implants are typically used to monitor brain activity and stimulate neural regions to ease symptoms of epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and severe depression. The implants are made from metal and other rigid materials that can cause inflammation and buildup of scar tissue over time. Now MIT engineers are developing soft, flexible neural implants that can gently conform to the brain’s contours and monitor activity over longer periods, without aggravating surrounding tissue. By way of 3D printing, neural probes and other electronic devices are as soft and flexible as rubber.

Made from a type of polymer or soft plastic the devices are also electrically conductive. The normally liquid-like conducting polymer solution is converted into a substance more like viscous toothpaste – which could be fed through a conventional 3D printer to make stable, electrically conductive patterns.

The engineers planted the device, including a small, rubbery electrode, in the brain of a mouse. The neural probe was able to pick up activity from a single neuron as the mouse moved within a controlled setting. The result is promising in the sense that this can give scientists a higher-resolution picture of the brain’s activity and can help in personalizing therapies and use long-term brain implants for a variety of neurological disorders.

Through 3D printing, different neural devices can be made very quickly. The design can be changed, the printing code run, and a new design can be generated in 30 minutes. It is hoped that this will streamline the development of neural interfaces, fully made of soft materials.

Conducting polymers have a unique combination of plastic-like flexibility and metal-like electrical conductivity. They are used commercially as antistatic coatings, as they can effectively carry away any electrostatic charges that build up on electronics and other static-prone surfaces. The engineers believed that if they could 3D print a conducting polymer, they could then use the material to print different soft, intricately patterned electronic devices, such as flexible circuits and single-neuron electrodes.

The team of engineers published the results of their study in the journal Nature Communications. This only shows that 3D printing may enable speedy, on-demand design of softer, safer neural devices that can greatly help study brain activity as well as help with certain neurological conditions.


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