The ESA-supported skeletal floor for the lunar habitat design, created by leading architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, is currently on display at this year’s Venice Biennale.
This prototype floor design was partly 3D printed in stainless steel by the Dutch company MX3D, which is known for creating 3D printed bridges in Amsterdam.
In order to meet the efficiency, usage and construction constraints, the smooth web pattern design of the structure is derived from drawing stress map analysis and optimizing continuous topology to reduce quality and maximize the use of 3D printing manufacturing methods.
It is printed from 308LSi stainless steel using a robot “arc additive manufacturing”. It takes about 246 hours to produce. The total mass after assembly is about 395 kg, and the maximum diameter is about 4.5 m.
The overall floor design consists of six separate parts, which are printed vertically before being welded together. The 3D printed structure is supported by three pillars and carries a series of floors.
“The innovative floor design is supported by pillars in the walls of the habitat, cantilevered towards the periphery and the center,” commented Daniel Inocente, SOM senior designer for the study.
“We looked at the manufacturing constraints and used our analysis to insert web patterns that follow the angle limits of the 3D printer. We also analyzed and differentiated the cross-section and thickness to reduce the overall mass-reducing the external thickness/internal boundary.”
Gijs van der Velden, CEO of MX3D, explained: “This is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the potential of our technology to manufacture lightweight metal structures together with ESA and SOM.” “For MX3D, use it to optimize the metal structure in terms of printing topology. MX3D’s experience is a perfect project. To achieve the best use of materials is the company’s goal of MX3D, because just like when designing space applications, every kilogram in MX3D design is a direct feasibility to win the project.”
ESA Senior Manufacturing Engineer Advenit Makaya said: “This is a remarkable achievement of MX3D, which further highlights the potential of this additive manufacturing technology in more and more space applications. Design flexibility and integration of printed structures with embedded A monitoring system for the possibility of structural integration—as shown in the 3D printed bridge in Amsterdam—is worth studying for applications in spatial structures.
This technology can also be considered for in-situ infrastructure construction during sustainable exploration missions, for example by using metal raw materials from locally available weathered layers. The function of MX3D demonstrates the enlightening concurrency of engineering and art, and is another good example of how additive manufacturing has entered our society. For space applications, these technologies not only provide performance improvements, but can bring unprecedented support design solutions.
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Link to this article：3D printed lunar habitat floor officially unveiled
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