Self-Replicating 3D Printers to Help Build Lunar Stations
The University of Carleton, Ottawa, announced a major breakthrough in the field of 3D printing on June 06, 2017. The most powerful tool in modern technology is set to open up a whole new field of application for scientists and experts.
Led by Alex Ellery, the researchers of the Carleton University of Canada have developed a prototype of a 3D printer that can self-replicate using the materials surrounding it in space. The way it works, a single 3D printer sent into space can be used to create a thousand more like itself thereby building a whole factory, which will in turn provide humans the tools they need to survive in space even before they reach there. This major discovery is anticipated to help reduce the risk of space missions to a large extent.
The field of 3D printing has been developing by leaps and bounds and is used for a variety of applications in space exploration and research. 3D printers would also help in reducing global warming by manufacturing satellites in the space and installing solar shields in space. This is anticipated to exponentially reduce the cost of launching the entire human team along with machinery and resources.
Previously, 3D printing was limited to just the plastic parts of the printer as 3D printers were not self-replicating and the printing of a fully functional motor had not been achieved. In the current version, the researchers are targeting the printing of a fully functional electric motor through resources available on the moon. To this end, the printers would use a neural network and not the traditional system.
Explaining the ramifications of this breakthrough, Alex Ellery, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in the Carleton University said, “Once motors and electronic controllers can be 3D printed, we can print any kind of robot, including a 3D printer. If you have a robotic self-replicating machine, you can grow an enormous manufacturing infrastructure on the moon robotically.”
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