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3D-Printed Habitat Challenge Ends, Innovation Continues

CREDIT: Caterpillar
CREDIT: Caterpillar

Whether it’s a great city or a developing village, for more than 90 years, Caterpillar has helped our customers build the infrastructure of the world. As we look to the future, we’re planning infrastructure even beyond our planet’s needs.

Why we sponsored the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge

That’s why we’re proud to sponsor NASA’s Centennial Challenge — the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge — along with Bechtel, Brick and Mortar Ventures and Bradley University. The competition incentivizes the world’s most talented innovators to come up with new ways to design and print a habitat that could be used for deep space exploration, including NASA’s journey to Mars, as well as have applications on Earth today.

Teams rose to the challenge for the final phase

In the third and final phase of the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, two teams met in a head-to-head challenge at Caterpillar’s Demonstration and Learning Center in Edwards, Illinois. There, both teams autonomously 3D-printed elements of a one-third scale habitat that could be used on the surface of Mars.

Meet the teams: Penn State is developing sustainable 3D printable materials not only for the NASA challenge, but also for practical and immediate applications on earth such as disaster relief and low-cost shelters for those in need. The winning team, AI SpaceFactory, joined the competition for Phase 3. They are committed to developing the capabilities for sustainable progress on Earth and beyond.

Our relationship with NASA: From the moonwalk to autonomous machines

Caterpillar has a long-standing relationship with Caterpillar dating back to Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon. The relationship has fostered technological advancements in robotics, semi-autonomous and remote-control operator stations for equipment. These advancements increase safety for operators and productivity of the machines. Earlier work with NASA can now been seen in commercial products like Cat® Command for Dozing.

“Knowing the improvement in technology we’ve seen in our work with NASA, we’re excited for what this competition could mean for our customers,” said Excavation Machine Design Department Director Justin Speichinger. “3D Printing is a disruptive, transformational technology that can significantly affect the productivity capability of the construction industry.”

Making advances in infrastructure and inspiring the next generation

For Caterpillar and NASA, collaboration is about advances in infrastructure, resource utilization and inspiring the next generation of innovators. Caterpillar’s investment in this challenge is an investment in emerging technologies to help solve our customers’ problems. The possibilities are endless – from the earth to the moon and beyond. For more information about the competition, visit:

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