It seems that every space program in the world wants to build a moon base at some point in the future. The only problem is actually getting the materials up there to construct the buildings. Researchers may have made it a little easier with their latest 3D printing experiment.
Researchers from Washington State University recently experimented with a novel idea – what if they could use lunar soil and convert it into useful objects through 3D printing? NASA provided the synthetic regolith and the researchers got to work on making objects with it. The results indicate that manned missions to the Moon and Mars could theoretically print tools using the surface soil on the planets.
The efforts of WSU is just the latest in utilizing 3D printing for space missions. NASA has already played around with the idea of using 3D printers to construct satellites. It only makes sense to considering including the technology in future space missions that aim for planets.
The most interesting aspect of all of this, however, is using natural materials in the printing process. Typical 3D printers use plastic, but said plastic can be very expensive when constructing large objects. Being able to use natural materials, like sand, can be very cost effective, and perhaps create even stronger materials than what can made via plastic.[h/t: Fabbaloo]