AI SpaceFactory’s 3D printed TERA project emphasizes need for sustainable construction

Inspired by its successful run in the NASA 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, AI SpaceFactory has decided to apply its construction 3D printing know-how to develop an eco-friendly home here on Earth. The sustainable housing project, called TERA, will be built in the heart of nature, just a couple of hours outside of New York City.

The construction industry is one of the most taxing on our planet, utilizing vital resources and creating significant pollution. This reality has not been lost on NY-based architectural firm AI SpaceFactory, which is best known for producing MARSHA, the winning design for NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge.

Driven by the necessity to find more sustainable housing and construction solutions, the ambitious company is turning its focus away from the stars and planting its feet firmly on the ground with its TERA project.

Described as a “futuristic eco-habitat,” the TERA project will utilize the technology developed by AI SpaceFactory for its MARSHA habitat, which itself relies on 3D printing recycled materials that can be composted back into soil at the end of its life. At its core, the TERA project aims to challenge the existing paradigm in the construction industry, showing that sustainable solutions are possible.

“The concept for TERA emerged from the recent NASA Centennial Challenge, where we 3D printed a 15ft tall prototype Mars Habitat, MARSHA, out of recyclable biopolymer and basalt fiber,” writes David Malott, CEO and Chief Architect of AI SpaceFactory. “In awarding AI Spacefactory first place, NASA encouraged us to find applications for our technology on Earth, even as we continue to pursue its use in Space.”

After testing the 3D printed MARSHA habitat, the structure was demolished, enabling AI SpaceFactory to quite literally pick up the pieces and bring the components back to its facility in New York. Now, the company plans to grind the pieces of the MARSHA habitat back into raw feedstock for its 3D printer to produce TERA.

“It is unlikely we can stop building,” Malott added. “There are the 1.6 billion in the world who live in inadequate shelter. Urbanization is reshaping the Planet’s surface, and it shows no signs of abating. 200,000 people move into cities each day. We can continue to take resources from the Earth at great cost; or, we can build in a way which gives back. Earth’s bounty was used to grow our civilization and advance our technology. Now that we have the ability to venture out to the stars, it is time to return what we have borrowed. This is our pact with our Planet.”

Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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