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#1 2020-01-14 08:09:42

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,345

Industrial production on Mars

Some thoughts on industrial production on Mars...

3D printing is really maturing as a technology. This You Tube channel from markforged.com gives a good overview of what can be done.

https://www.youtube.com/user/markforged

I would expect Space X to have 3D printers similar to Metal X, along with plastics and carbon fibre printers, on Mission One, as there will be a need to be able to print spare parts.

3D printing is probably going to be the first choice for industrial production on Mars in the early stages, because of (a) the low population (meaning relatively low demand for products, which in turn means economies of scale are limited) and (b) the need to cover pretty much the full range, or certainly a large proportion,  of products on Earth.

We might see on Mars a "workshop" system analogous to that which existed in 18th century Japan. People often fail to appreciate how advanced Japan was even prior to the arrival of Commodore Perry's "Black Ships".  Japan's capital of the time had over a million people and there were other urban centres with populations of over 400,000.  Although there were not factories as we understand them there were tens of thousands of craft workshops and sophisticated production techniques, all based on a rice surplus economy. Highly automated farming on Mars will mean that probably 98% of the population are free to engage in other activities, including industrial production.

I would expect lots of 3D print workshops to grow up, with each specialising in particular materials (e.g. metal, carbon fibre, plastics) and particular product lines (engine parts, farm tools and farming systems, energy generation and so on).

Another important aspect of production on Mars will be the use of CNC lathes, automated milling machines that can produce high quality products.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jF4F8Zr2YO8

Again, I would expect the Mars pioneers to take with them CNC lathes on Mission One.

As the base expands we will see more sophisticated production. One priority will be PV panel production. This can be highly automated as the following example shows:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KTrq63Q2u4

Initially we can expect the production machines to be imported from Earth. But later on, the Mars community will build them themselves, with maybe the exception of the computer parts.  Further on, the Mars community will be able to produce the computers to run the machines.

The process of producing the highly pure polycrystalline silicon (poly-silicon) and monocrystalline silicon from quartzite (of which there is plenty on the surface of Mars) is described here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QKzS_w_Ko0

Highly automated or robotic textile manufacture is an industry that is likely to be established early on. Cotton, linen and other textile materials can be grown in controlled conditions on Mars. There will be no need for heavy clothing. Light cotton and linen clothing will likely be favoured for both day wear and sleep wear. Weaving of fabric is already highly automated and can be undertaken with minimal human supervision. Cutting and sewing is less straightforward but there are already robots that can undertake the work:

http://softwearautomation.com/products/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BA96-WX-oXc

EVA suit manufacture will be of a different order and is likely to be Earth-sourced for many decades to come.

Last edited by louis (2020-01-14 09:07:44)


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#2 2020-01-14 08:31:51

tahanson43206
Member
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 1,645

Re: Industrial production on Mars

For Louis re #1 of new topic ...

Congratulations on a promising launch for this new topic!

What I particularly like is the review of Japanese achievements in past centuries.  If you have a reference or two to add to your post, that might draw a forum reader into a deeper study of the subject.  Recently I caught part of a video about the ongoing struggle to try to maintain ancient practices in Japan.  Young people are often drawn away from their traditional homes to big cities, where distractions of the modern era pull them in.  The elders who still know traditional crafts are holding down the fort for as long as they can.

Another aspect of your opening post is the opportunity it provides for individual readers to imagine themselves becoming master of one or more of the specialties you have listed, and others that will become necessary or advantageous.  Individuals in the phase of education can be thinking about these career opportunities for Earth as well as potentially Mars. 

I am less doubtful of the ability of Mars settlers to produce computer parts, if by those you mean circuit boards.  My expectation is that progress toward 3D printing at the nanoscale will continue as rapidly as human inventors can realize their visions of mechanisms.  The actual placement of atoms in precise locations was achieved decades ago.  The competitive advantage of precise placement of atoms will continue to drive research and development.

The parts that are set on circuit boards are (of course) another order of magnitude more challenging to manufacture than circuit boards, but I expect they too will be created by advanced 3D printers. 

Best wishes for success with this interesting looking new topic.

(th)

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#3 2020-01-14 09:24:12

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,345

Re: Industrial production on Mars

Here's some background on Japan's economic history:

https://eh.net/encyclopedia/japanese-in … ic-growth/

It's interesting to note several features in Japan's pre-Black Ships phase:

1. The economy was able to develop as a result of a big food surplus that allowed people to be released for other tasks. On Mars, this is clearly crucial to economic development as well, since a growing population cannot easily be fed by imported food from Earth (which would in any case need to be paid for - at a huge cost). So (highly automated) farming is a priority. 

2. Although pretty much closed to the outside world, the Japanese used the Dutch connection to glean information about European technological and scientific advances and applied them where they thought they were useful. The Mars settlement can pick and choose in this way, in making use of Earth-origin technology as it requires.

3. Japanese economic growth was initially investment led, rather than export led.  This could be a model for Mars as well. In my opinion it will require a strong central government to achieve that.

4. Infrastructure improvement (e.g. road building and embanking of rivers) provided the basis for economic development on Japan. We will need good infrastructure development on Mars - particularly a good system of road trails but also Spaceports for Mars-wide connective transport (Starships for long haul and Rocket Hoppers for more local air travel) and maybe something like Hyperloop.

5. Political stability encouraged economic development. I think that argues for settling the political constitution of Mars early on.

Last edited by louis (2020-01-14 11:23:22)


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#4 2020-01-14 13:30:11

GW Johnson
Member
From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 3,756
Website

Re: Industrial production on Mars

A word of caution about 3-D printing.  Printing metals is more expensive than printing plastics.  That probably will not change.

Printing metals has been plagued with bad physical properties in the product.  If you pay top dollar,  there are a few outfits and machines that can get you repeatably-high density and tensile strength,  more-or-less equivalent to a wrought-metal part.  Don't pay top dollar,  and you get crappy parts.  I rather doubt that will change,  either. 

Here's the real rub:  not even the top-dollar outfits and machines can get the elongation-at-failure of a wrought part.  That means your printed parts are more brittle,  and subject to brittle failure modes,  which are usually catastrophic.  That in turn means your printed parts still have to be thicker and heavier than equivalent parts of wrought metal. 

That situation may change some time in the future,  but not yet.  I see no signs of it yet.  Hype is NOT fact.  A truth you ignore at your peril.

GW

Last edited by GW Johnson (2020-01-14 13:32:03)


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#5 2020-01-14 17:54:45

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,345

Re: Industrial production on Mars

Yes, Mars 3D printers will need to be tested and top of the range. Another issue that might need to be addressed is to what extent the properties of a 3D printer change in 0.38 G.  I imagine there will be some effect on the way extrusion occurs...

This is quite a good overview of some issues with metal printing:

https://www.engineering.com/3DPrinting/ … nting.aspx


GW Johnson wrote:

A word of caution about 3-D printing.  Printing metals is more expensive than printing plastics.  That probably will not change.

Printing metals has been plagued with bad physical properties in the product.  If you pay top dollar,  there are a few outfits and machines that can get you repeatably-high density and tensile strength,  more-or-less equivalent to a wrought-metal part.  Don't pay top dollar,  and you get crappy parts.  I rather doubt that will change,  either. 

Here's the real rub:  not even the top-dollar outfits and machines can get the elongation-at-failure of a wrought part.  That means your printed parts are more brittle,  and subject to brittle failure modes,  which are usually catastrophic.  That in turn means your printed parts still have to be thicker and heavier than equivalent parts of wrought metal. 

That situation may change some time in the future,  but not yet.  I see no signs of it yet.  Hype is NOT fact.  A truth you ignore at your peril.

GW


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#6 2020-01-14 17:56:28

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 17,402

Re: Industrial production on Mars

Part of the issue for industrial productioon is the amount of prepocessing of materials to make the starting stock for what we need to make and that holds true for the 3D printing as well. Thats were we need to make use of as much of the cycling of materials as possible.

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#7 2020-01-14 18:56:49

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,345

Re: Industrial production on Mars

I think for the early missions the materials for use in 3D printing are going to be printed.   [Sorry - meant to write "imported"] But gradually the Mars settlement should be able to start producing its own versions of the materials on Mars.

SpaceNut wrote:

Part of the issue for industrial productioon is the amount of prepocessing of materials to make the starting stock for what we need to make and that holds true for the 3D printing as well. Thats were we need to make use of as much of the cycling of materials as possible.

Last edited by louis (2020-01-15 19:01:44)


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#8 2020-01-14 19:02:21

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 17,402

Re: Industrial production on Mars

A 3D printer needs a feed stock of processed materials in order for it to print anything....sure we will ship some materials with the units to be used sparingly but at some pint they will not be used as we will not have the feed stock processed for its continual use to make stuff that we need.

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