Red Picket Fences: Will Your Martian Apartment Be 3-D Printed?

Barring any massive mistakes in the next two decades or so, humanity is going to Mars.  It's very well within reason to suspect that some of the readers of this article -maybe even you, prospective pioneering Martian! - could be taking a one-way ticket off of Earth, permanently.  So, you know, you've got to start seriously planning for how cool your Martian digs are going to look.

It's actually way roomier than what's similarly priced in Manhattan.
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According to Fast Company, the RedWorks company is a space startup that doesn't build rockets or spaceplanes, but rather has focused on a crucial element that'll be required when those other entrepreneurs are ready to land on Mars: the astro-adventurers need permanent housing.  Using a special 3-D printer than works with the Martian soil to create building materials, the company hopes to be able to house the huddled masses yearning to breathe another atmosphere.

"There are a lot of businesses focused on launching satellites and humans into space, but one important thing that isn't being addressed very much is the kind of infrastructure that needs to be put in place for us to be able to operate on another planet," CEO Keegan Kirkpatrick explained.

NASA and others will have the heavy-lifting handled,
but what about the place where you'll hang your hat (well, space helmet?)
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The RedWorks devices could also help build infrastructure like roads, and other elements to work in tandem with technology so all stays cool in the colony.  The RedWorks team includes a geologist who specializes in knowledge of Martian elements that could be of use, and 3-D designers who excel at creating realistic items from computerized blueprints.  This would include a crucible in which to melt the Martian soil, or "regolith."

This innovation means that we won't need to truck up any extraneous construction materials, which add lots of weight (and expense) to launches. "When you heat up the regolith, it comes out like a molten taffy," Kirkpatrick explained. "Once it cools, you can make anything you want: roads, fuel tanks, a habitat."

Better Homes & Martians, 2036.
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RedWorks software would also be used to assess natural structures, like caves or rock formations, to augment the 3-D printed architecture. The RedWorks website describes their construction plans even further.  "One efficiency is to use preexisting structures so that you are building organically," Kirkpatrick said. "The software generates a habitat using basic architectural principles of design."

Currently, some 1,000 young spacefaring companies are trying to get into aspects of the astral game, with the number set to explode as realistic Martian metropolises leave the realm of science fiction and court the consciousnesses humans from around the world.  Startups like RedWorks could very well (literally) pave the way for more innovation, at home and afar...

Twenty years from now, this could be the view out your front window.
Well, hatch-porthole, at least.
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