Engineers demonstrate 3D printing structures using simulated Moon dust

Engineers demonstrate 3D printing structures using simulated Moon dust

Complex structures with steep slopes are 3D printed using simulated lunar reolith. (Image Credit: FIU).

This technique allows you to quickly construct structures on the Moon with locally sourced materials

Florida International University (FIU), has demonstrated this with its researchers 3D printing Simulated structures Moon dust. The lunar regolithOr soil, it is composed of fine, coarse, and abrasive pieces. This makes it stick to surfaces and cause damage to equipment on the lunar surface. NASA is working on special technologies to remove Moon dust from astronauts’ and other devices during future missions to the Moon. The printer is capable of producing structures at different angles, and also a habitat made from artificial Moon dust. This mimics the characteristics lunar regolith.

This research aims to develop the capabilities of In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) which is a method for deep space missions. It involves the construction of the equipment and facilities necessary for the mission at the site, using locally available resources. Robots will collect Moon dust, which is abundant, and process it in a facility. From there, they can be sent to 3D printers for space parts, tools, bricks, and even complete prefabricated structures. This method can be used to build rocket launch and launch pads, greenhouses as well storage facilities and habitats for astronauts.

Materials engineer Brandon Aguiar says, “It’s very expensive to ship supplies to space. A pound of material could cost thousands of dollars. Imagine how much it would cost taxpayers for entire homes to be shipped to the Moon. Instead, we can use the material that is already there to build infrastructure.” The researchers are next working to ensure that the structures constructed using the 3D printing can withstand the extreme environment on the Moon, including the direct exposure to radiation without the protection offered by a thick atmosphere, the extreme variations in temperatures caused by lengthy lunar days that last almost a month on Earth, and impacts by at least the smaller asteroids.