What might almost be an alien lifeform being shown by ESA materials specialist Tommaso Ghidini during his TEDxESA talk on 3D printing for space.
In fact, what he termed a ‘bionic’ part is an example of a 3D-printed bracket for a satellite, designed in a new way.
As Tommaso explained, 3D printing means that much more complex shapes are possible, compared to standard manufacturing.
Software allows designers “to put material where the loads are, like Mother Nature does”. The resulting items can be lighter and better-performing, while often weirdly organic in appearance – because they are following design rules similar to biological evolution.
Tommaso spoke about the various ways ESA is researching 3D printing for space, including the idea of one day printing a Moon base. A 1.5 tonne block produced from simulated lunar soil was unveiled on stage.
Ideas worth spreading, from the technical heart of Europe’s space sector – 11 November marked ESA’s first TEDx event, combining the worlds of technology, business and art.
For those who missed it, follow the @TEDxESA Twitter feed, as the speaker videos are made public in the weeks and months ahead.