We present work in 3D printing electric motors from basic materials as the key to building a self-replicating machine to colonise the Moon. First, we explore the nature of the biological realm to ascertain its essence, particularly in relation to the origin of life when the inanimate became animate. We take an expansive view of this to ascertain parallels between the biological and the manufactured worlds. Life must have emerged from the available raw material on Earth and, similarly, a self-replicating machine must exploit and leverage the available resources on the Moon. We then examine these lessons to explore the construction of a self-replicating machine using a universal constructor. It is through the universal constructor that the actuator emerges as critical. We propose that 3D printing constitutes an analogue of the biological ribosome and that 3D printing may constitute a universal construction mechanism. Following a description of our progress in 3D printing motors, we suggest that this engineering effort can inform biology, that motors are a key facet of living organisms and illustrate the importance of motors in biology viewed from the perspective of engineering (in the Feynman spirit of "what I cannot create, I cannot understand").

, , , , ,
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Ellery, A. (2020). How to build a biological machine using engineering materials and methods. Biomimetics, 5(3). doi:10.3390/BIOMIMETICS5030035