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NASA Announces 3D Printed Habitat Challenge Winners

Picture of Hanna Watkin
by Hanna Watkin
May 7, 2019

The competition challenged teams to design 3D printed habitats for deep space exploration. NASA awarded $700,000 in the final round to the first and second place winners.

The final round of NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge is complete and two teams are walking away with a total of $700,000.

AI. SpaceFactory came first and won $500,000. In second place came Pennsylvania State University of College Park which received $200,000.

The competition pitted teams against one another in a bid to build the best habitat for deep space exploration. Their task was to use materials that can be found on the moon or Mars to create shelters that were a one-third scale version of their architectural designs.

The teams competed at Caterpillar’s Edwards Demonstration & Learning Center in Edwards, Illinois between May 1 – 4.

The multi-phase 3D Printed Habitat Challenge began in 2015. NASA has now awarded $2 million in prize money and over 60 teams have participated. The phases were design, structural member, and on-site habitat construction.

“The final milestone of this competition is a culmination of extremely hard work by bright, inventive minds who are helping us advance the technologies we need for a sustainable human presence on the Moon, and then on Mars,” said Monsi Roman, NASA’s Centennial Challenges program manager.

“We celebrate their vision, dedication and innovation in developing concepts that will not only further NASA’s deep-space goals, but also provide viable housing solutions right here on Earth.”

AI. Spacefactory’s Mars Habitat in a dust storm (Source: NASA)

3D Printing Subscale Shelters in Front of Judges

Both teams used robotic construction which doesn’t require human intervention and had 3D printers running for 30 hours over four days.

The teams constructed their habitats in front of judges in ten-hour increments. After the 3D prints were complete, the habitats were put to the test. Strength, durability, leakage, and material mix were all thoroughly tested.

“It is an impressive achievement for these two teams to demonstrate this disruptive and terrific 3D-printing technology at such a large scale,” said Lex Akers, dean of Bradley’s Caterpillar College of Engineering and Technology.

Bradley University worked with NASA to manage the challenge. Sponsors of the challenge included Caterpillar, Bechtel, Brick & Mortar Ventures, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

For more on 3D printing in space, check out these stories:

Source: Press release

The winning teams with their check (Source: NASA)

License: The text of "NASA Announces 3D Printed Habitat Challenge Winners" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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