Imagine a future where individuals stationed on the moon will be able to scoop up a bunch of moon rock, pour it into a machine, and print out an object they need. Such was an idea presented by Washington State University researchers, who used imitation moon rock in combination with a 3D printer to create objects. While it still has a long way to go, they successfully created three cylinders.
WSU researcher Amit Bandyopadhyay and his fellow colleagues utilized a synthetic form of regolith, which is more commonly known as moon rock, in the experiment. The regolith was added to the 3D printer, where it was melted and used to create the cylinders featured above. This could eventually be used to create needed parts or to perform repairs on the lunar landscape.
Said Bandyopadhyay in an interview with NBC News: “The other option is we can actually weld a joint using local material. You may have a good-looking piece in your hand but good for nothing in terms of properties, or you can print something so that it can be functionally useful.” You can hear the rest of what he has to say in the video above.
Although for now the idea is little more than a future-minded concept, it could one day prove essential for colonies on the moon. Whereas having materials on-hand for needed objects and repairs would be both incredibly expensive and impractical, moon rock is as plentiful as sand on the beach. By eliminating the need for materials, wait times for material shipments would be a non-issue, and repairs could be made ASAP.