Mankind has made great efforts in knowing the secrets of deep space to find out answer to the question “Are we alone in space”. I find it quite amusing when people make tall claims and try and answer this question. I mean how much do we really know? We are talking about Outer space when 90 % of deep seas on our planet is still unexplored. We talk about life or no life outside our planet when 50-80% of all life on earth is found under the ocean surface and the oceans contain 99% of the living space on the planet and we have just explored 10% of these.
What stops us from finding out more about deep sea?
Deep sea has a harsh dark, cold environment, with extreme pressures. We have made Space voyagers that have gone as far as coldest areas of the outer planet however they travel in Zero Gravity hence they do not have to face the extreme pressure that a submarine faces in deep seas.
Let me explain the troubles of extreme air pressure.
At sea level the air pressure we experience is 14.5 pounds per square inch but the liquids inside out body exert the same amount of pressure from the inside keeping us alive. Once you dive inside the water at every 33 feet (10.06 meters) you go down, the pressure increases by 14.5 psi. Which is equal the weight of an elephant balanced on a postage stamp, or the equivalent of one person trying to support 50 jumbo jets.
So when a team of 3D printing enthusiast led by Martin Baumers, decided to find out if 3D Printed parts could withstand these extreme pressures they tried to test it out. They created a small submarine with the pilot being Jacques a fearless Lego explorer and send it into the depths of an unusually deep lake called Lago d’Iseo, in northern Italy.
The project was code named Deep-Z, and is funded by private individuals. The goal of this project was to get non-academic and hands-on view of the actual strength of 3d printed parts. Explaining the details about the project Baumers said, ‘We didn't use any desiccants (water absorbing substances) as the camera, a GoPro Hero, already has a water resistant housing. Additionally, we felt that any equipment failure at depths of around 200m would destroy the camera anyway. […] To make sure that Jacques the Lego diver stays in the seat of his submarine he was glued in place using an Epoxy resin.’
The Submarine was 3d printed out of Nylon using Laser Sintering technology and the test was successfully conducted; Jacques travelled to the depth of the lake and came back unhurt. Baumers said ‘This material is quite strong for a plastic and reliably produces parts that can be used for demanding applications.’