3D printing is no longer the domain of fiction. Initially, this technology was only reserved for the creation of prototypes. Today, it makes it possible to design fully functional everyday objects. In Dubai, a building even saw the light of day thanks to 3D printing.
Recently, a team of researchers from the Institute of Science and Technology in Skolkovo took a keen interest in this technology. These scientists wondered how far 3D printing could go. After several experiments, they concluded that it could be used to design dwellings and objects intended for the lunar surface.
To do this, it will be necessary to go through a laborious process of transformation of the lunar regolith.
A process that uses stereolithography
According to the researchers, 3D printing could be used in all situations on the lunar surface. As part of their research, they focused on a specific technique called stereolithography. It is often used in 3D printing to make solid objects from a digital model.
They got hold of a lunar regolith simulant. Their goal was to use this material to 3D print a structure. Before arriving at this stage, they had to find a way to transform this lunar regolith simulant into some kind of raw material that will be compatible with a 3D printer.
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Objects made from lunar regolith
To do this, they decided to mix the lunar regolith with a liquid. So, they got some kind of dough. It is this product which was then extruded by a 3D printer using the stereolithography technique. It should be emphasized that this experiment was carried out on Earth.
As a result, the researchers were not subjected to seriousness issues. What is more, the materials needed to make these objects obtained through 3D printing were all at hand. Carrying out such an experiment on the Moon will require more preparation and the installation of special devices.
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It will take time to perfect this process. However, the fact that the researchers were able to use a lunar regolith simulant to design objects with 3D printing is already a big step forward.