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3-D Printed Buildings Coming Soon to a Moon Near You
Space.com ^ | 1FEB2013 | Tim Maly

Posted on 02/03/2013 5:20:34 PM PST by Jack Hydrazine

For space scientists dreaming up a manned base on the moon, 3D printing with lunar dust looms as an attractive possibility. Such on-demand fabrication would allow astronauts to repair broken parts, manufacture spare ones and maybe even build structures, all out of the dirt scooped from under their boots.

In a new study involving artificial moon dust, engineers have shown that the technology is close to becoming reality.

With 10 pounds of simulated lunar dirt (or regolith) in hand, NASA officials approached researchers at Washington State University and challenged them to melt and resolidify the fake moon rock using 3D laser printing technology, which produces objects layer by layer based on a computer model.

The simulant is an expensive combination of silicon, aluminum, calcium, iron and magnesium oxides. Meant to mimic the properties of the regolith found on the moon, the powdery material had a particle structure resembling that of ceramics.

Because of their tendency to crack, ceramics can be tough to manipulate using 3D printers. But the WSU researchers, including husband-and-wife team Amit Bandyopadhyay and Susmita Bose, had previously demonstrated that ceramic-like material can be re-formed with an on-demand fabricator to create custom-made bone scaffolding.

For the new study, the researchers fed the raw simulant powder into a 3D printer, heating the material to high temperatures and printing it out in smooth half-millimeter (0.02 inches) layers to form small cylindrical shapes with no visible cracks. The structures that came out of the printer were about as hard as typical soda lime glass, the researchers explain in a study detailing the recent experiments in the Rapid Prototyping Journal. [10 Cool Moon Discoveries]

"It doesn’t look fantastic, but you can make something out of it," Bandyopadhyay said in a statement.

Bandyopadhyay said additives to the moon dust, such as titanium, could produce stronger objects. But he emphasized in a phone interview with SPACE.com that this technology is still in its first-generation phase and that the study was aimed at showing that the concept works with moon dust alone.

While building a lunar habitat out of moon regolith might be a distant possibility, Bandyopadhyay indicated that repairing broken tools seems like the most feasible use for the technology in the nearer future. In addition to producing free-standing 3D objects, the team showed that the fake moon rock could be used to make a "superglue" to join together broken parts, Bandyopadhyay said.

3D printers that process lunar regolith could save on resupply costs for a manned base on the moon, which NASA reportedly been considering as a possible gateway to destinations farther out in space.

"It is an exciting science fiction story, but maybe we’ll hear about it in the next few years," Bandyopadhyay said. "As long as you can have additive manufacturing set up, you may be able to scoop up and print whatever you want. It’s not that far-fetched."

And beyond moon dust, the technology could be adapted to Martian soil, for manned missions to the Red Planet. Bandyopadhyay, however, said he hasn't been able to get his hands on any artificial Mars dirt yet.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: 3dprinting; base; moon
Under the topics section there is no "Space" or "Technology" to choose from on the list.
1 posted on 02/03/2013 5:20:44 PM PST by Jack Hydrazine
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To: Jack Hydrazine

3D-Printing a Future Moon Base (Gallery)
http://www.space.com/19600-moon-base-concept-3d-printing-photos.html


2 posted on 02/03/2013 5:21:56 PM PST by Jack Hydrazine (It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine!)
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To: null and void
Ping.

/johnny

3 posted on 02/03/2013 5:26:52 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: Jack Hydrazine
There are currently concrete printers here on earth. They aren't small, and are still in development. But youtube has videos of them operating.

/johnny

4 posted on 02/03/2013 5:29:22 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Lets put a man in orbit, then we’ll see if we can or will get back to the moon


5 posted on 02/03/2013 5:31:18 PM PST by The Louiswu (Torpedo the Constitution and full speed ahead!!!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine
Here's a link to some prototype concrete printing, which includes walls.

/johnny

6 posted on 02/03/2013 5:34:13 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

So we can print GUNS from moon dust?? And 30 round mags? Lunar gun regulations are obviously needed!


7 posted on 02/03/2013 5:42:05 PM PST by zagger
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To: Jack Hydrazine

So why not here?
What would be relative cost to normal buildings and printed buildings?


8 posted on 02/03/2013 5:50:43 PM PST by Little Ray (Waiting for the return of the Gods of the Copybook Headings.)
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To: Jack Hydrazine
It can be done: Solar Sinter Project
9 posted on 02/03/2013 5:59:47 PM PST by Vince Ferrer
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To: Little Ray
So why not here?

And put millions of illegals out of work? Are you insane?

Like Davy Crockett said while looking over the wall of the Alamo. "Looks like we're gonna pour some cement".

10 posted on 02/03/2013 6:00:33 PM PST by bigheadfred
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To: Little Ray

They are working on that very concept. The design is a machine that lays down cement, as it goes around the perimeter, starting from the foundation.


11 posted on 02/03/2013 6:05:14 PM PST by Jonty30 (What Islam and secularism have in common is that they are both death cults.)
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To: bigheadfred
Like Davy Crockett said

If I haven't said it before, and I'm fairly sure I have.... You just ain't right. LOL!

/johnny

12 posted on 02/03/2013 6:20:37 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: Jonty30

Oh no! What will the unions say?


13 posted on 02/03/2013 6:24:04 PM PST by coldbluesteel (Endo)
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To: coldbluesteel

think about tax collectors.

What happens when improvements can be made without any trace?

No sales taxes?

3d printing needs to out pace the tax man like the internet.


14 posted on 02/03/2013 7:05:22 PM PST by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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To: coldbluesteel

think about tax collectors.

What happens when improvements can be made without any trace?

No sales taxes?

3d printing needs to out pace the tax man like the internet.


15 posted on 02/03/2013 7:16:28 PM PST by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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To: JRandomFreeper; AFPhys; AD from SpringBay; ADemocratNoMore; aimhigh; AnalogReigns; archy; ...

3-D Printer Ping!


16 posted on 02/03/2013 7:32:56 PM PST by null and void (Gun confiscation enables tyranny. Don't enable tyranny.)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

I doubt this will ever happen. It takes a city permit and occupancy permit, inspection, planning meetings and connection fees. Then we’re talking about state fees too.

There are just too many obstacles.


17 posted on 02/03/2013 8:26:00 PM PST by lurk
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To: Jack Hydrazine
Such on-demand fabrication would allow astronauts to repair broken parts, manufacture spare ones and maybe even build structures, all out of the dirt scooped from under their boots.

Why make astronauts dirty their hands -- or boots? Just design robot ships and robot printers that will be sent ahead of the astronauts to mine the regolith and "print" giant luxury resorts for the humans.

Granted, I am not familiar with all the technological issues involved in doing such a thing, and it may be a rather simplistic view of things, but 3D printing already seems like such a gobsmackingly fantastic and futuristic thing (yet, "engineers have shown that the technology is close to becoming reality"), designing robotic factories to mine and process regolith strikes me as child's play in comparison.

18 posted on 02/03/2013 10:44:06 PM PST by LibWhacker
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To: lurk

I doubt this will ever happen. It takes a city permit and occupancy permit, inspection, planning meetings and connection fees. Then we’re talking about state fees too.

They have those on the moon already?
I tell ya, no place is safe.

It wouldn’t be long before....

Ayep, I’m sorry Mr.Moon Condo owner but
you have an S trap on this sink and it should be
a P trap. Have to change it out, and no occupancy
till you do. oh and here’s a $300 fine just to
make your day.


19 posted on 02/03/2013 10:55:41 PM PST by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: Jonty30

That is so cool!

Or they could have one that builds a plastic form, then you fill it with concrete. Have a friend who built a house out of styrofoam forms, put in rebar and then concrete. The result was amazing.


20 posted on 02/04/2013 4:44:24 AM PST by Little Ray (Waiting for the return of the Gods of the Copybook Headings.)
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To: lurk

Is there a city on the Moon I don’t know about? LOL!


21 posted on 02/04/2013 10:11:32 PM PST by Jack Hydrazine (It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine!)
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