To make the moon and other planets like Mars habitable for human beings we need a special infrastructure which can sustain human life on these planets. To make this a reality, researchers from European Space Agency (ESA) have developed a 3D-printed brick using simulated moondust and the sun’s energy.
This innovative technology of 3D-printed brick will help the moon explorers to build human colonies on the surface of a moon. A team of researchers led by Advenit Makaya, used a 3D printer table, to bake successive 0.1mm layers of moondust at 1,000 degrees Celsius and 20 x 10 x 3 cm brick can be built in five hours.
The material needed for the brick construction was made from a volcanic material which resembles lunar dust. The solar furnace used in brick construction is owned and maintained by DLR German Aerospace Center facility in Cologne, Germany. A solar furnace is bulky having 147 curved mirrors which redirect the sunlight to high-temperature beam transforming the lunar dust into solid form. The brick developed using these materials is as strong as gypsum.
The new project is the part of ESA’s initiative which will develop technologies that will help the future lunar colonists to make use of local resources present on the moon. This would avoid the necessity to carry all the materials from Earth which will also reduce the travel cost.
Past experiments conducted by ESA used salt to bind the lunar surface. The similar experiments are also funded by NASA. This project is part of ESA General Support Technology Program study and is funded by European Union-funded RegoLight program which develops new technologies that will harness the resources present on the lunar surface.
3D printing technology is widely used nowadays and has many applications in different sectors like Aeronautics, Drones, Automotive etc. For instance, the researchers from MIT recently developed a new robot which can print the whole dome in 3D in just 14 hours.