A look at the finalists for the NASA ‘3D-Printed Habitat Challenge’

We’re just years away from colonizing our first extraterrestrial planet, and NASA’s plans aren’t limited to humans shifting to Mars. Their 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge aims to look at how to develop a printable, easy to set-up home for space-travelers on the Moon, Mars, or even further into the universe. The multi-million dollar competition was designed to challenge teams to build complex habitat setups that could be assembled easily on site, giving astronauts/voyagers a place more permanent to stay in than a lander or spaceship.

NASA selected three finalists (over a period of more than 4 years) through multiple phases of the competition. Finalists were required to present renderings, research and propose materials and schematics, and the third stage ends with actually building prototypes of the shelters. At third place is Team Mars Incubator (video above) with its modular habitat. Each module serves the purpose of a separate room, and is connected by a walkway. Smaller modules are made to be dodecahedral (comprising pentagons), while the large, primary module comprises hexagonal and pentagonal pieces.

Designer: Team Mars Incubator

NASA Mars 3D Habitat Challenge Finalists


At second place is Team Zopherus, with the rather unique Zopherus habitat. Rather than carry material to Mars, the Zopherus relies (in part) on materials found on Mars. Essentially a massive interplanetary 3D-printer, the Zopherus deploys rovers that collect material and bring it back to the printer, which binds it together with cement, and prints the habitat out. The habitat uses two nozzles that print in HDPE and the Martian concrete. The HDPE forms a base structure as well as an outer cover for the Martian concrete construction, reinforcing it as well as protecting it from the extreme temperatures of the red planet.

Designer: Team Zopherus

NASA Mars 3D Habitat Challenge Finalists

Running for first place is Team SEArch+/Apis Cor, with its twisting smokestack design. Titled the Mars X House, its design is optimized for the pressure requirements of Mars, and comes made with an inner layer of HDPE, followed by an outer covering of concrete and basalt fiber, which is finally reinforced on the outside with vertically spiraling ridges. The house is split into three zones, with their own dedicated emergency exits (the outer spiral staircase), and right at the top is a water reservoir which applies downward pressure on the building, which when combined with the building’s shape, prevents it from exploding due to the pressure imbalance from the inside to the outside.

Shipping materials and components to Mars is an incredibly expensive ordeal, which is why each of the houses attempt at building on-site, autonomously using a fixed set of parts and whatever they can find on the planet… so when the first colonists make their interplanetary journey, they carry only valuable, life-sustaining cargo with them. NASA has finalized on these three designs, and the challenge is all set to end in May with a grand showcase in Illinois where the winner will receive a grand prize of $800,000!

Designer: Team SEArch+/Apis Cor

NASA Mars 3D Habitat Challenge Finalists

IKEA makes furniture more accessible with 3D printing

If you live with disabilities, shopping for furniture can be difficult. Many common furniture items aren't designed with accessibility in mind, and those that are can be rare or non-existent. IKEA Israel has a technological solution: 3D print piece...

Light waves allow scientists to 3D print with multiple materials

3D printing can already create sensors for NASA rovers, rocket engines, safer football helmets, dentures. Name it, and it seems like it can be 3D printed. But the technology is still pretty limited, partly because most 3D printing systems can only ma...

Your very own robot arm for laser engraving, 3D printing and more!

Every so often a product pops up that we can’t quite believe exists… and the incredible Hexbot is one of them! Hexbot is an all-in-one robot arm that is fit for anyone’s desktop. This interchangeable device can assist makers and designers in bringing their creations to life… and with insane precision! The modules satisfyingly clip onto the end of the arm, each offering a unique and usable function; from laser engraving, which allows for the creations of mesmerizing pieces of art or personalized gifts, right through to 3D printing, allowing your creations to come to life!

The possibilities for Hexbot are bordering on overwhelming and its immense level of functionality doesn’t compromise the ease-of-use. It comes with its own intuitive software, so you can just concentrate on creating! All of this does come at a cost… a very affordable cost! So, having your very own robot arm is now more attainable than ever!

Designer: Hexbot Robotics

Click Here To Buy Now: $299 $659 ($360 off). Hurry, less than 48 hours left and over $750,000 raised!

The first versatile desktop robotic arm with extreme 0.05mm high repeatability that turns your desktop into a workshop. Hexbot’s functional modular design is aimed to complete any task from simply grasping, drawing to 3D printing and laser engraving.

What Can You Make With Hexbot?

What Makes Hexbot Different?

The patented decelerator design reduces the gap between gears, allowing 0.05mm extremely high repeatability.

Change Modules in One Click

Thanks to the modular design, Hexbot no longer has unwanted screws on the end effector. Switch out modules in just one click.

Free & Easy-to-use Software

Hexbot gives you an intuitive and interactive way to control and bring your ideas in just a few clicks with our software.

To keep Hexbot easy-to-use, they integrated Blockly into our software, which allows dragging and placing the code blocks to control Hexbot. Control a robot arm is as easy as play a board game.

They also provide an API for experienced developers to control Hexbot in Processing, Python, and G-code.

Colorful Touchscreen

To make controlling Hexbot even easier, we designed the 3.5-inch touchscreen allows you to check the status and command Hexbot within your hand. Download the G-code files to the SD card and start drawing/engraving/printing. No need to keep connecting to your computer.

Drawing & Writing

With the pen holder module, Hexbot can write a letter, draw a picture, and turn your design into pen and ink. Bring arts to your home or write your homework…

Laser Engraving

Hexbot can be easily transformed into a laser engraver with the laser engraver module. It is capable of engraving on wood, leather, paper and other materials. You can make a meaningful gift for your friends within a few minutes.

3D Printing

With Hexbot’s high precision, you can print a 3D object with the 3D printing module. The modular design expands the creative power for Hexbot. Gives us the ability to create more things with it.

Pick & Placing

Picking and placing objects can be easily performed with the help of a suction cup and soft gripper.

Tech & Play

Don’t know how to program? No worries. With the multi-function button on the base or the touchscreen, you can drag the arm and record the movements and make Hexbot repeat the movements. Drag, record, and play – just that easy.

Click Here To Buy Now: $299 $659 ($360 off). Hurry, less than 48 hours left and over $750,000 raised!

You can now 3D print your own iconic Bladeless fan

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If you never had the money to spring for one of Dyson’s bladeless fans, know that you could pretty much print a similar one for yourself. Designed by Daniel Mitchell, a 3-D printing enthusiast from South Africa, this bladeless fan uses an airfoil shape to suck and capture additional air, creating a cool, un-buffeted breeze. It also features a rather neat looking triangular shape that’s cool enough to grab eyes but different enough to keep Dyson’s copyright lawyers at bay.

The fan is almost entirely 3D printed (the files are available to download for free) and requires a couple of extra components (a 120mm computer fan, a 12V DC power adapter, and an on/off switch), and just a touch of technical prowess to piece the entire model together. The total print time is up to 35 hours… which may seem like a lot, but considering that it would take more time to buy and have a bladeless fan shipped to you, Daniel’s 3D printed bladeless fan isn’t all that bad. Did I mention it’s a whole lot cheaper too??

Designer: Daniel Mitchell

Click Here to Download File

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Click Here to Download File

Behold, the world’s first fully 3D printed motorbike!

Apart from the electronics, and the rider, every ounce of the BigRep Nexa is 3D printed. From the handlebars, to the body, to the seat, suspension, and even the tires, the Nexa is an absolutely stunning feat of design and engineering melded together to show how far additive 3D printing has come. The e-bike’s body comes with an edgy, chiseled design that gives it character and strength, and even includes a flexible bumper underneath the seat to absorb shock. Even the airless tires are made from 3D printing, with a lattice structure that gives it both strength and flexibility, allowing it to mimic natural rubber tires.

A 3D printer selling company, BigRep came to limelight with their airless bicycle tires that we featured earlier this year. The Nexa takes BigRep’s PRO FLEX filament and TPU printing technology to the next step, not only by building an entire vehicle out of it, but by building a much more powerful vehicle that tests the material on a much more advanced level. What’s next… a sportscar? A hanned drone?? Who knows!

Designer: BigRep

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3D Prints That You Can Eat?!

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As the technology within the 3D printing world advances, so does its popularity and commercial ability. But now the Dutch designer, Elzelinde van Doleweerd has taken things a step further by making the prints edible!

Having recognized the vast quantity of food that is wasted each day, boiled rice in particular, Van Doleweerd conjured up a solution to reduce the amount of food that is unnecessarily and often nonchalantly thrown away. By boiling and mixing the ingredients together, followed by intensive grounding and sieving, a paste is created! The paste can then be transformed into stunning and mesmerizing 2D geometric shapes or crafted into 3D objects such as plates and bowls. Once baked they become completely dehydrated, resulting in a food that can be enjoyed for a long time to come!

With a plethora of foods, spices and herbs at Van Doleweerd’s disposal, we are sure to see some more exciting flavors and delicious pieces of art in the future!

Designer: Elzelinde van Doleweerd

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