Do you know what moon dust 3D printing is?
The Apollo 11 mission in 1969 lasted just eight days.If we want permanent bases on the moon, Mars and beyond, future astronauts will have to spend many more days in space, months or years away from earth.So the question is: how do you sustain long-term survival and life in space?Launching materials and supplies from earth is too expensive and unsustainable, and the best way to do it is still to use materials locally.
Past research has focused on how to obtain raw materials on the lunar surface to build basic living facilities such as houses and roads.Now that 3D printing is becoming more sophisticated, researchers are taking it a step further. The new research focuses on 3D printing parts or replacement parts for various facilities on the moon, made from the lunar dust that is scattered all over the moon.
Lunar dust is used to 3D print parts for living facilities
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has been used frequently in aerospace research projects over the years, including NASA’s launch of a 3D printer to the international space station ISS to test conditions in space.In addition to plastics, metals and ceramics, clay is one of the materials used for 3D printing.In addition, 3D printing is highly automated, labor-saving, and supports remote control.It is theoretically possible to launch a 3D printer and build infrastructure or tools before an astronaut gets to the moon, and then use the lunar facilities as soon as possible.
3d-printed tool parts directly from lunar dust
There are, of course, significant challenges.3D printing was developed primarily for use on earth, where the principles of gravity and temperature are closely related to the surface environment.In the more complex environments of the moon or Mars, nothing is known.
The moon’s surface is covered by regolith, a loose, powdery material formed when meteors bombarded the lunar surface millions of years ago.We can think of it as lunar soil, which is made up of fine particles of less than a few millimeters.This soil is an excellent raw material for 3D printing, which, combined with adhesives and catalysts, will be able to print parts or facilities with a wide range of USES.
Dr Thanos Goulas, of the AMRG Group at loughborough university in the UK, published a paper entitled “3D printing with lunar dust”.The team has been studying how to use lunar regolith to print a range of engineering components.
Dr. Thanos Goulas published his paper 3D printing with lunar dust
The detailed plan is to use a laser to convert very little energy into heat, which melts and fuses regolith grains to form thin, firm slices of material.Repeat this process several times and add layers in order to build a 3d object.Each layer is less than 1mm thick, making it more suitable to produce smaller, precisely designed tools, such as dust or water filtration devices, which usually require holes smaller than 1mm (0.001 mm).If vital parts are damaged or worn out, 3D printing will be able to make them directly on the moon, greatly reducing the frequency and weight of space launches from earth to the moon.
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