24/7 Customer Service (800) 927-7671

Selective Separation Sintering: NASA Challenge Leads to an Entirely New 3D Printing Technology for the Moon and Mars

by • April 5, 2016 • No Comments


Whilst there are many reasons to hustle for the createment of 3D printing innovation in space, the sizeable-bodiedst reason is that shipping things to outer space is expensive – quite expensive. According to NASA, it costs of $10,000 to commence a mere kilogram of cargo into low planet Earth orbit, and $100,000 to send that same load to the moon. To ship cargo to Mars, the costs become astronomical (sorry). Most experts agree that the just way to feasibly meet the much-talked-of goals of setting up bases on the moon and exploring Mars is to create innovation that can allow us to 3D print whatever we require right there, via the resources at hand.

BEHROKH "BEROK" KHOSHNEVIS, Professor of Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Southern California , USC,

Dr. Berokh Khoshnevis

Figuring out how to do so is obviously a massive task, so NASA often reaches out to the sizeable-bodiedr community in the forms of competitions that challenge members to come up with creations and innovation that may feasibly be utilized in the exploration and colonization of the moon and Mars. Their many new challenge, the In-Situ Materials Challenge, asked members to come up with createion methods via native, or in-situ, surface materials to create structures on other planets, as well as on planet Earth. The winners were newly revealed, and the top prize was taken by Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis, engineer and professor at the University of Southern California, who createed no additional than an entirely new 3D printing system.

It is not the initially time Dr. Khoshnevis has won a NASA challenge. In 2014 he was awarded initially place in the Create the Future competition for his Contour Crafting innovation, that utilizes gigantic 3D printing equipment to create sizeable-bodied-scale structures on planet Earth and, futurely, in space. For the In-Situ Materials Challenge, he created upon that innovation to create Selective Separation Sintering (SSS), a 3D printing system that he describes as “a novel powder-based additive making method that can create parts of different types of scale out of polymers, metals, ceramics and composites.”


A prototype SSS 3D printing device

Unlike Contour Crafting, that is an extrusion-based innovation that uses a paste-like material to create sizeable-bodied structures one layer at a time, SSS utilizes powder to create tinyer in size objects like bricks, interlocking tiles, and a wide range of functional metallic components. Dr. Khoshnevis and his team createed the method via a synthetic material created by NASA’s Johnson Space Center to simulate the gravel and soil discovered on the moon and Mars. By combining that material with high melting point ceramics such as magnesium oxide – in addition discovered on the moon and Mars – the team was able-bodied to print tiles sturdy adequate to endure the heat and pressure of landing spacecraft.

According to Dr. Khoshnevis, the just way to additional space exploration is to create the capability of createing roads, hangars, blast walls, radiation shields and landing pads on Mars and the moon, and the combination of his Contour Crafting and SSS technologies has the future to fabricate both the sizeable-bodied and tiny components requireed to set up shop on another planet for an extended time.


A selection of (top to bottom) ceramic, bronze and stainless steel parts printed with SSS innovation

“(SSS) may manufacture space pioneering additional cost-effective and feasible,” he said. “There are no viable-bodied, direct, high-temperature metal, ceramic or composite fabrication methods that can work in zero-gravity conditions. SSS can be the initially such system…There is high future for the space and planetary use of this innovation. SSS is a minimally complicated but highly capable-bodied innovation that can effectively sustain planetary exploration, utilization and colonization.”

The future step Dr. Khoshnevis and his team, who were awarded $10,000 for their work, plan to take is to test the system in vacuum chambers at the Kennedy Space Center and USC’s Astronautics Rocket Lab. Going forward, they hope to partner with aerospace companies in the Los Angeles area to additional drive the project’s createment. You can read a full study on Selective Separation Sintering here. Discuss additional too in the New 3D Printing Method forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Source/Images: NASA, USC]sss principles