3D printing could be the basis for the colonization of the moon

3D printing could be the basis for the colonization of the moon


Ekaterina Alexandrova | 01/21/2021

3D printing could be the basis for the colonization of the moon

Maksim Isachenkov, PhD student at the Skoltech Center for Design, Production Technologies and Materials, together with research assistant Svyatoslav Chugunov and professors Iskander Akhatov and Igor
Shishkovsky talked about the possibility of using additive technologies to support future missions to explore the moon in their review published in the journal Acta Astronautica.

Scientists presented a description of the properties of the lunar soil (regolith) and its imitators – their mineralogy, morphology and chemical composition in the light of the use of this natural material as a raw material for
3D printing on the surface of the moon. The authors analyzed the applicability of various 3D printing methods presented in the literature, including selective sintering of lunar soil by laser, microwave and
concentrated solar radiation for the construction of infrastructure for future manned lunar stations. Among the main factors for the analysis, the authors chose the possibility of adapting the methods
additive manufacturing to lunar gravity, energy consumption, technology scalability and application autonomy.

According to Maxim Isachenkov, “3D printing technologies will become the basis for creating the necessary infrastructure for exploring the Moon, providing future cosmonauts with the protection of living modules, landing
sites, necessary tools and spare parts through the use of local resources. ” He believes that “there is no one universal 3D printing method suitable for solving
all these tasks. It would be advisable to develop a strategy for using a whole range of different 3D printing methods, choosing the most appropriate approaches for specific purposes. ”

A team of scientists led by prof. Shishkovsky I.V. moved from analyzing foreign developments in this area and conducts his own research. In the laboratory of additive technologies of the center
Skoltech CDMM has been deploying work on the applicability of various 3D printing technologies for their use with the lunar regolith. Scientists have focused on stereolithographic printing techniques,
allowing to obtain high-strength precision ceramic products. The first samples obtained at the Skoltech Additive Manufacturing Laboratory from the lunar soil simulator developed by the center
studies of the lunar surface and asteroids (CLASS) NASA showed the fundamental possibility of such an approach.

The Skoltech team plans to manufacture more complex functional products, up to the construction of residential blocks, conduct mechanical tests and adapt such technologies for autonomous
work in lunar gravity.

3D printing

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