Podcast: Robert Ballard & 3D-Printed FLIPsteads

(joequirk) #1

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Why haven’t seasteads been built yet?

Robert Ballard, famous oceanographer who discovered the RMS Titanic, reminds us every time we talk to him that the technology for stability on the high seas is the RV FLIP, which has been repeatedly deployed on the high seas since 1962.

What’s with the 54-year delay? Why, asks Bob, did we walk on the moon almost a half century ago, but we haven’t built FLIP-like homes on the sea?

The answer is simple. It’s still too expensive for a middle-class family.

Our former Managing Director at the Seasteading Institute, Chris Muglia, an experienced seaman, set out to solve that problem. He developed a business plan to radically lower the cost of constructing FLIP-like structures using 3D-printing technology.

Is Chris crazy? I decided to put him on the spot.

I got Chris on the phone with Bob, turned on the recorder, then challenged him to pitch his idea for 3D-printed seasteads to the world’s most famous oceanographer. Bob famously told astronaut Buzz Aldrin he was full of baloney on National Geographic TV. If Bob isn’t afraid to tell Buzz Aldrin what he really thinks, he’ll tell Chris Muglia.

I think you’ll be amazed by the results of their conversation.

If you subscribe to podcasts on iTunes, you can find this podcast and all of our other podcasts on our iTunes page. While you’re there, how about giving the podcast a five-star review so we can reach more potential seasteaders?

For a future of liberation at sea,

Joe Quirk, Seavangelist

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://www.seasteading.org/2016/01/podcast-robert-ballard-3d-printed-flipsteads/

Simple, stable, modular, spar type interlocking platforms
Boat/seastead survival in a hurricane
Building a seastead 13 miles off Phuket coast
(Wilfried Ellmer) #2

Interesting ! Spar structures have been around for a while and certainly a good reputation on seaworthiness and crew comfort. Example Draugen

In general shell structures ( tubular structures, shell clusters, spheres, torus, domes, blimp shapes… ) seem to be the kind of structure most fit for ocean colonization, open water conditions, and Draupner impacts.

(Dylan Hunter) #3

Long time lurker, 1st post. (even followed some the original forum, some years ago)

Seems odd that this is coming up, after all the years of posts, about using FLIPs, and spar-buoys. Add that so many have posts on stuff like aquaculture, to provide a food source. So many have documented on both, and using spars for fish pens, too.

Dr. Ballard is exactly right. If you are wanting to put cities in the ocean, there has to be a food supply. Aquaculture is already proven, to raise fish, oysters, and kelp. Even making that work, so they keep the environment clean. Raising small fish, that eat stuff, like kelp, that can be easily grown, then feeding up the food-chain, until there’s a caged food-fish population eating them. Maybe 3 steps? Grow kelp, then some sort of kelp-eater that is also a food for a fish that people eat? I used to work for a pet store. We used to feed goldfish to Pacu, raised mice to feed to snakes. Got salad at the end of the day, from a salad-buffet, just down the road, to feed the mice, rats, and rabbits. Really simple process, once it’s a pattern.

At the same time, kelp can help eliminate fish waste, that would otherwise kill the area with algae, sucking up the oxygen, in an artificial red-tide, just like agricultural run-off does. That also eliminates the need for agricultural sources, like grain, for fish food. I have even read something where the UN and EPA are both promoting laws to stop fish farms from polluting the waters.

I can’t say about printing concrete, but they used slip-forming for some huge concrete offshore rigs, like the Troll A. It’s all hollow. There was even a concert in a large room in the base of one of the legs, at 303 meters depth.


I did a reduced FLIP conceptualization, last year, as well as one for a containerized spar-buoy.



Problem I see with printing a spar-buoy is the lack of an armature, to distribute loads. However, I also pointed out a process to deal with that, by slip-forming the cylinder down, into the water and taking time to build in the various horizontal bulkheads, plumbing and fittings, then build the next section and begin partially filling the tanks, as the spar is lowered, to maintain a neutral, buoyancy.


Jeff Frusha

(GP) #5

Listen to his criticism of SeaSteaders at 5:50 - The problem with SeaSteaders is they are building the Cities first, they should be building the farms (farmers) first.

I would agree.

Bob Ballard | family seastead | low road | small starting point | oceanic business alliance
(Joe Mertens) #6

So you need a long tube that you can float out and then sink one end deep in the water, not really that hard as Grancreat is chemically stable in seawater and stronger than normal concrete. with fero-createment structures being cheap to build you divide the interior with bulkheads made out of the same Grancreat material valves with controls on the outside at each bulkhead one to let water in and out and the other to pump air in if you ever want to move the flip tower and boxes to protect the valve ports and controls. One flip-tower you have oyster farm with strings on spars out from the tower. Three flip-towers you net in and you have a fish farm or other aquaculture four or more you connect and build up and across for your city


Currently still too expensive. One particular problem is that any Portland cement based concrete has to be made as one continuous pour. The construction methods are availabe.

The sparbuoy platforms cannot simply be placed and use like fence posts, to spread and support a set of nets, as a cage. Recardless of mooring methods, there would be too much movement to be practical, especially in a storm.

There are various designs for sparbuoy designs proposed, in the forum, incuding the use of the sparbuoy as the central structural member, surrounded by a fish pen, or stacked pens for IMTA - integrated multi-trophic aquaculture.