Useful parts from fake moon dust

Useful parts from fake moon dust

Researchers used 3D printing technology to make these items from fake lunar regolith

How to create a colony on the moon? Will have to deliver all the necessary items to the colonists from the Earth? This strategy was followed by NASA when the agency’s astronauts made short-term visits to an earth satellite in the late 1960s and early 1970s. But they could not bring with them too much to linger longer on the moon.

Technologies have improved since then, but most plans suggest that colonists will use local lunar materials so as not to depend on earthly supplies. Therefore, the European Space Agency (ESA) created a whole bunch of fake moon dust (regolith) and used it for 3D printing of small screws, gears and even a fake coin.

These printed items are not made from plastic or carbon based metal. This is a kind of lunar ceramics. Regolith grains are mixed with a light-active binding element, laid in stages, and then solidified. The resulting detail is “baked” to achieve the necessary hardness. That is, all these parts are naturally closer to the plate in the cabinet than the screws on which the shelves are held. This is still a pilot project, so tests are needed. In addition, it is important to check whether the manufactured parts can withstand the load and stress in real use. The project has great prospects. If it works, then we have amazing opportunities.

On the lunar base, every detail will be worth its weight in gold. Broke down the door, jammed compartment, there was a hole? Well, you can panic and go into hysterics, because you have to wait for a saving delivery from Earth. However, the regolit printing will allow literally in a few minutes to correct the problem on the spot from the available materials.

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