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What is it all about?
How can 3D printing with Moondust be the key to the future lunar living? It took almost 8 days for the whole Apollo 11 mission to land on the moon. If we need to make everlasting bases on Mars or the moon, then, there is a need for much more time to be spent on the Moon. Also, the astronauts require a continuous lifeline to Earth. Usually, the issue is how they can get everything they require. Utilizing the rockets to direct all the supplies as well as equipment for making and developing the settlements on the moon can be highly costly.
Image courtesy of Loughborough University
Role of 3D Printing
This is the point where 3D printing plays its role. Usually, it allows the astronauts to make whatever the lunar colony require from the raw material. There is a lot of excitement around the 3D printing in space. It has focused on utilizing it to create buildings by using this 3D printing with moondust for supplying the lunar making labs. And, it replaces the parts for all kinds of equipment.
Precisely known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing includes a refined group of technologies that can make physical products of any shape or geometrical intricacy from the digital designs. The technique can make a lot of things using different materials, which include plastics, ceramics, as well as metals. These materials are present for making space-grade equipment.
3D printing has the additional benefits of working with reduced involvement of human beings. You can set it to print and then wait for the finished product. Basically, it means it can be remotely operated.
Usually, you can send a 3D printer to the moon before the arrival of the human crew. It can initiate making structures before the arrival of astronauts.
Of course, there are a lot of difficulties. 3D printing with Moondust is all set for use on Earth. Perhaps, it depends on specific levels of temperature and gravity for operation. Until now, the materials are less complicated as compared to those present on the surface of Mars or moon.
The powdery and loose material is regolith. Basically, it covers the moon. And, this material constitutes millions of years of meteors, which bombard the surface of the moon. Slowly, it has changed the top layers of bedrock to the content made up of grains. Regolith is used for additive manufacturing. 3D printing with Moondust including houses or the most unaffected parts like cement or bricks requires extra stuff from Earth to mix with the regolith like liquid binders.
Usually, every layer is 1 mm in thickness. Building large structures like shelters or walls take a significant amount of time. In spite of this, it is better for making small objects like water or dust filters, which require holes of 0.001 mm. In short, 3D printing is beneficial for the replication of necessary parts. And, it is helpful as if they were to be worn or damaged, they require quick replacements. Check out this short video below.