Interstellar Lab, the French-American company building controlled-environment habitat and crop cultivation modules, has established a partnership with the 3D printing company Soliquid. Founded in 2018 by Jim Rhoné, Impulse Group and Amaury Thomas, Soliquid is backed by Leonard, VINCI’s future of construction acceleration program, and specializes in large-scale suspension 3D printing. The company has been developing a patented system to 3D-print concrete, resins and other materials in a controlled environment with a sustainable and efficient process.
Founded in 2018 by Barbara Belvisi after several months of incubation at NASA Ames Space Portal, Interstellar Lab now counts on a team of 15 former SpaceX, Airbus & Nest employees. The start-up applies space exploration design and technologies to develop and build BioPods: controlled-environment modules for sustainable farming on Earth and life-support in space. To date, the company raised a $1.2M pre-seed round among angels including Bruno Maisonnier, Wind Capital, Diaspora Ventures, Thibaut Elziere and Adeo Ressi and is currently closing its seed round to accelerate BioPod’s production. Interstellar Lab will be showcasing the first BioPod this autumn, next to Paris.
In this context, the partnership with Soliquid will allow Interstellar Lab to initiate its additive manufacturing strategy, thus participating in scaling the production of BioPods to meet the growing demand on Earth. It will include the development of innovative inflatable 3D-printed membrane and test 3D-printed regolith structures for lunar ISRU applications of the BioPod in partnership with space agencies.
Since its inception, Soliquid targets architectural and engineering challenges related to additive manufacturing techniques. By employing a reusable matrix and topology optimization workflows, their 6-axis robot and extruder can 3D print complex parts in suspension, without support, faster and with less material than traditional prefabrication processes. Results that layer-by-layer 3D printers would not achieve. In addition, Soliquid’s technology can help restore fragile ecosystems by 3D printing biomimetic constructive systems that foster the return of life and blooming of biodiversity. Their latest artificial reef project Bathyreef, supported by Mio, CNRS, Ifremer, Fondation Jacques Rougerie and carried out with Vicat, Tangram Architectes and Treex, is designed to be a sanctuary for marine life. It will be used as a support for deep sea
biodiversity and bioluminescence.
Brought together by their values, Soliquid’s 3D printing solution will provide an effective and cost-efficient way of manufacturing Interstellar Lab’s proprietary material systems developed for BioPods and EBioS. This partnership will offer new possibilities to envision the future of sustainable farming and habitats and open up new ways to think about performance and efficiency. On the other hand, Soliquid will keep its original branch while obtaining more resources to work with sustainable projects on Earth and in space.
As a result of the partnership, Jim Rhoné, architect and founder of Soliquid, becomes Chief Product Officer at Interstellar Lab and will be in charge of BioPod’s development—from design to delivery—while overseeing the manufacturing process.
“Joining Interstellar Lab as CPO is a wonderful responsibility. As an architect, maker, and entrepreneur, it’s a dream to be part of this exceptional journey and team, sharing the same conviction that technologies we currently develop to aim at the stars will help preserve our ‘pale blue dot.’ Space and ocean explorations are intimately linked and, as we start revealing both of their mysteries, Soliquid will bring the best of its expertise to help turn Barbara’s vision into a reality. Fascinating times and challenges ahead!” Jim Rhoné.
“I am very excited to have Jim joining us as CPO. His work is brilliant, and we have very aligned values not only in design but also when it comes to sustainability, preserving biodiversity and the future of humanity. Interstellar Lab is now accelerating, and we are very happy to team up with Soliquid to enter this phase!” Barbara Belvisi.