SpaceX has already established itself as a pioneer in 3D printing rocket parts, even seeing one of its engineers launch his own successful rocket 3D printing startup. Additionally, we have seen additive construction explored as a possible tool for producing structures on the moon and Mars. It was only a matter of time that we saw these two space applications cross paths, and now we’ve seen that SpaceX has actually used construction 3D printing to build an extension to its facility on the island. from South Padre, Texas.
Part of The Hub, a small meeting point between two launch pads, the building was made using an Apis Cor system. According to Jarett Gross, who broke the story for his blogAutomate construction, “Apis Cor uses a rental business model where customers must commit to a one-year contract. This project with SpaceX may have been a rental or maybe just something that Apis was contracted to build as a one-off and I’m leaning towards the later because I couldn’t see the printer there anymore- down and was still actively under construction.
Gross visited the site in person and noted that no new electrical or plumbing needed to be incorporated into the building. Additionally, he saw no cracks, apparently common in 3D-printed buildings. As much as I’ve written about the technology, I’ve yet to see a 3D printed building in person.
The blogger received an anonymous tip about the 3D printed structure, sending him to visit the site. Interestingly, the advice came after it was reported that SpaceX could be heading for bankruptcy. Given the headlines that additive construction tends to generate and the possibility that it’s been used as a PR move in the past, it wouldn’t be surprising if the unveiling of this 3D printed building at the right time can help divert attention from the company’s financial difficulties. .
Nevertheless, it is one of the most important users of construction 3D printing technology to date, which validates it to some extent. We can take it as a sign of things to come, as additive construction is sure to explode in the next few years, if not 2022 alone.