Academic journal article Science and Children

Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Make Parts from Moon Rock

Academic journal article Science and Children

Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Make Parts from Moon Rock

Article excerpt

Imagine landing on the Moon or Mars, putting rocks through a 3-D printer and making something useful--like a needed wrench or replacement part.

"It sounds like science fiction, but now it's really possible," says Amit Bandyopadhyay, professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University.

Bandyopadhyay and a group of colleagues published research demonstrating how to print parts using materials from the Moon.

In 2010, researchers from NASA initiated discussion with Bandyo-padhyay, asking if their research team might be able to print 3-D objects from moon rock. Because of the tremendous expense of space travel, researchers strive to limit what space ships have to carry. Establishment of a lunar or Martian outpost would require using the materials that are on hand for construction or repairs. That's where the 3-D fabrication technology might come in.

Three-dimensional fabrication technology, also known as additive manufacturing, allows researchers to produce complex 3-D objects directly from computer-aided design (CAD) models, printing the material layer by layer. In this case, the material is heated using a laser to high temperatures and prints out like melting candle wax to a desired shape. …

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