Today's blog post comes from my colleague, Nathan King. Nathan is our BUILD Space Research Strategist and Projects Lead at the Autodesk Technology Center in Boston. The Autodesk Technology Centers are where the future of making takes shape. With locations around the world, we collaborate with industry, academic, and entrepreneurial communities to reimagine what it means to design and make, and create a shared vision of the future that will enable us to do more and make better things with less negative impact. The Autodesk Technology Center at the BUILD Space in Boston is a research and development workspace focused on innovation in architecture, engineering, and construction.
We just had two groups that are wrapping up completion of large robotically printed prototypes as part of the finalist groups for the NASA Mars Habitat competition. The NASA Mars 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is a $3.15 million competition to build a 3D-printed habitat for deep space exploration, including the agency’s journey to Mars. The multi-phase challenge is designed to advance the construction technology needed to create sustainable housing solutions for Earth and beyond.
One is a company called Apis Cor that imported a large commercial concrete printer. Apis Cor's motto is "We print buildings." In 2016, they won a startup of the year award.
Apis Cor worked at the Autodesk technology Center by using their own technology — a purpose-built additive construction tool for concrete printing. Their material was a custom concrete mixture.
The other team is AI SpaceFactory. AI SpaceFactory is about architecture, technology, and research. Forbes identified AI SpaceFactory as one of five space tech startups who are key to making life on Mars possible.
Working at the Autodesk technology Center, AI SpaceFactory used a large format high deposition rate robotic polymer extrusion process. This equipment was developed in collaboration with BUILD Space resident, Virginia Tech Center for Design Research.
Though the two teams represent different approaches to the same challenge of large format, additive manufacturing for construction, both were able to leverage the Autodesk Technology Center BUILD Space.
Autodesk has always been an automation company, and today more than ever that means helping people make more things, better things, with less; more and better in terms of increasing efficiency, performance, quality, and innovation; less in terms of time, resources, and negative impacts (e.g., social, environmental). The construction and manufacturing industries are converging. Customers who make buildings are adopting processes traditionally employed by customers who make things. Practices like mass production and quality control are being applied at construction sites. This approach helps builders do more and better with less — even on other planets like Mars. Although targeted for Mars, the lessons learned at the BUILD Space can be adopted on Earth.
Habitation is alive in the lab.