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Lunar rover vehicle powered by continuous fiber reinforced composites

Anisoprint, a Luxembourg-based hardware startup, uses its unique technology to produce lightweight parts for a lunar rover designed by student team Kepler, winners of ActInSpace 2020, the largest worldwide space application hackathon.

Lunar rover vehicle powered by continuous fiber reinforced composites
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The moon rover was tested at the simulated lunar environment of the LunaLab in the University of Luxembourg end of September and exhibited at the DemoDay event to the partners and mentors.

Kepler team that developed the rover is the winner of the “Configure test a DIY lunar rover” challenge at ActInSpace-Luxembourg hackathon 2020 edition. The team received support from experts of the Space Robotics Research Group from SnT and Technoport to explore the business concept and to build the lunar rover on the basis of a prototyped rover configurator.

The advantages of continuous fiber reinforced composites, flexible material choice, high durability and small weight, pave the way to a number of industrial uses where mass counts. Aerospace is one of such industries, as extra mass creates a lot of expenditure due to fuel consumption and many other factors. With the rover, the main challenge was to make a robot with a mass under four kilograms, and 3D printed composites was an ideal option, so the team turned to anisoprinting for light weight and high strength.

A new model in Aura slicer (Image source: Anisoprint)
A new model in Aura slicer (Image source: Anisoprint)

The solution included remodeling two suspension parts — a wheel mount and control arm — for layering reinforcing fibers and ensuring strength and durability. 

Anisotropic materials exhibit a large potential for topology optimization

Aleksey Ivanov, Anisoprint application engineer explains:
“Application cases we deal with primarily come from areas where isotropic materials proved ineffective, which means we always change the design for anisotropic reinforcement, both geometry and weight count here. Composite 3D printing has a large potential for aerospace, and we help people explore it and get maximum benefit from the technology”

Composer A4 printing head and the part in progress (Image source: Anisoprint)
Composer A4 printing head and the part in progress (Image source: Anisoprint)

There was chosen carbon fiber for reinforcement as the lightest option and SmoothPA for achieving a polished surface. The resulting weight of the parts is as small as 64 grams for the control arm and 24 grams for the wheel mount as there was used only 15% infill (see lattice structure upper).

More information www.anisoprint.com