3D Printing and Robotics Proposed as Means to Bootstrap Space Industry

Published by , December 23, 2016 3:05 am

(NextBigFuture)  Advances in robotics and additive manufacturing (3D printing) technologies are game-changing for space colonization. As a result, it has become economically feasible to bootstrap a self-sustaining, self-expanding lunar industry that will spread across the solar system at no further expense to the Earth’s economy.
Self-replicating systems have been studied as an innovative method to economically access space resources. A 1980 summer study at the NASA Ames Research Center (Freitas and Gilbreath 1980) showed that self-reproducing machines are theoretically possible.T he 1980 study portrayed the seed replicator as a large factory, with warehouse operations, centralized computing, and significant facility construction. Lipson and Malone (2002) showed how Solid Freeform Fabrication technology (or additive manufacturing or 3D printing) could reduce the complexity of a space manufacturing operation. This would reduce the mass of the first seed replicator.

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