I knew that stolen subscription to New Scientist from that underserved youth community learning centre would come in handy one day. Well now thanks to those lovely little blighters I have learnt that I live in the future.
Welcome, ladies and gents to the S.C.U.M.B.A.G corner of this site. I bet you’re thinking S.C.U.M.B.A.G. huh, what’s that an acronym for? Well, let me spell it out for you right now.
Group … (for Science and Technology lovers.)
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Do any of us care that we are living in the future? You know, the future – that thing that Marty McFly visited once,despite the overuse of the word in the title of his films. So yeah the future right? Well guess what kids of the 80’s, we are genuinely living in it right now.
I found out a year or two ago that 3D printers were getting seriously sick at their job. Now they are so sick at their function that space programs want a couple of them to go live up there for a while and build some buildings up there, essentially forming a space colony. So they are looking at sending robots and 3D printers big enough to build a house up there and for them to start structuring a moon base. Yeah you heard me – a moon base. That shit’s pretty cray right there.
You might be wondering just what the hell a 3D printer is and how it would allow us to build a moon base, well I’ll try and explain it to you. Basically 3D printing is the process of making a solid object from a digital model. Essentially the process works as an additive process, whereby successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes by the printer until the overall structure is formed. These devices are becoming more and more common in everyday manufacturing and building processes, including the production of footwear and jewellery, as well as in the medical industry and civil engineering industries. It differs from traditional machining techniques as it works on the principle of developing material rather than the removal of material through cutting or digging.
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Some researchers in Washington University have made an artificial regolith to mimic the moon’s loose surface. In case you didn’t know, regolith is the sort of loose rock that covers hard bedrock and so these researchers are essentially creating moon soil containing silicon, aluminium, calcium, iron and magnesium oxide and then trying to see if this material could be used in a D Shape 3D printer. With that in mind they started trying it out and building solid objects from this material in 3D printers.
These D Shape 3D printers are so big they are built to potentially print very large structures. House sized structures even, which means that it might not be too long before we see these printers on the moon building a moon base. D Shape printers work like traditional 3D printers, only on a larger scale. They essentially build three dimensional objects by placing layers of sand (or some other material, such as moon soil) on top of each other, and using magnesium-based glue solution to hold the structure together.
Now thanks to some collaboration with the European Space Agency and architects Foster and Partners (the people who brought you Wembley Stdium) there are plans to send up an inflatable structure that would be covered with a solid shell built solely by the 3D printers. That’s pretty nuts but it actually looks like it could happen pretty soon as these printers have now been tested in a vacuum chamber with simulated lunar material to mimic the moons regolith and it looks like all systems are go with trying to get them up there. NASA have also had a pop at fabricating metal structure components with 3D printers for their shuttles so it looks like printers are the way forward if we’re serious about trying to leave the planet and establish other settlements on the moon and other planets.
Don’t say we never teach you nothing! If you are interested to know more here is a video about D Shape Printing and the future we are living in and you may as well get ready to watch out for Wembley Stadium rocking up on the moon as it probably won’t take too long to happen, especially with privatised space travel itching to take off and talk of mining asteroids on James Cameron’s mind. In fact, it looks like Branson and Cameron will be looking for some real estate on the moon fairly soon making them the most likely culprits for James Bond villain style world domination. At least it won’t be that hard for them to build their new base when it comes down to it.
Check the video below:
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