3D Printer Runs On Moon Dust

A 3D printer that uses simulated moon dust seems to work, according to Amit Bandyopadhyay, a professor at Washington State University’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering


(3D Printer Runs On Moon Dust video)

Typically, lasers use 300 to 400 watts to melt conductive metals. But the moon material was more similar to ceramics — Bandyopadhyay’s area of expertise. He had used that material for 3-D printing through selective laser sintering, where a powder is fused with intensely focused pulses of light, layer by layer, to form a specific object. He knew that throwing metal-specific levels of power at an insulator like this would only cause most of the energy to be absorbed, and the molten material to lose viscosity.

“If you go higher, then what will happen is you will go from honey to water, and then what happens?” says Bandyopadhyay. “It flows so much that you cannot make a part. So you need to have, you know, high enough to melt, but low enough not to overflow, basically. That’s the challenge.”

Bandyopadhyay’s team tweaked the power, scan, and feed rates on an Optomec LENS-750, a Tardis-sized, half-million-dollar, off-the-shelf additive manufacturing system that 3-D prints metals. Brought down to 50 watts, the researchers were able to uniformly melt and then re-solidify the (simulated) moon dust into 3-D objects, like bricks, that could be used for structures, radiation shields, insulating coatings, and so on.

Science fiction fans have not exactly been left in the dust by this development. In fact, in his 1951 novel The Moon is Hell, John W. Campbell wrote about marooned members of the second lunar expedition surviving by manufacturing solar cells using lunar materials.

See also this related article on a robot that fabricates endless tools and this article on how moon dust can be used to fabricate solar power panels. Via Wired.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/28/2012)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

WINE Spacecraft To Extract Water From Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.

Japanese Swordsmiths Take On Asteroids
'... a tiny, rocket-powered projectile, drove towards the mysterious bulk.' - E. C. Tubb, 1958.

Saturn's Rings To Vanish, Let's Mine Them While We Can
'...the valuable shards of what had once been satellites.' - Nelson S. Bond, 1941.

Negative Matter Fluid Theorized In New Paper
'Of course, being negative matter, when you push it, it comes toward you..' - Robert Forward, 1992.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Spicy Tomatoes Created With Genetic Engineering
How about mashed potatoes and brown gravy?

Driverless Hotel Rooms Predicted In 1828
'Did you never see a moving house before?'

Yandex Self-Driving Taxi Is Very Smooth
'The big car was slowing down, its computer brain sensing an exit ahead.'

Shrimp Actually Made Of Algae Is A New Wave Food
Bring in that crop algae.

Cosplay Style Wings Could Work On Moon
'They're lovely! - titanalloy struts as light and strong as bird-bones...'

Tesla Model 3 Has Outside Speaker Grille
Robert Heinlein does it again.

Arizona Luddites Attack Self-Driving Vehicles
'Trucks don't drive by themselves...' Or do they?

Organaut! Russians 3D Print Living Tissue In Space
'For a while your colonists will have to come up [to orbit] to the Hospital...'

WINE Spacecraft To Extract Water From Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.'

Japanese Swordsmiths Take On Asteroids
'... a tiny, rocket-powered projectile, drove towards the mysterious bulk.'

Saturn's Rings To Vanish, Let's Mine Them While We Can
'...the valuable shards of what had once been satellites.'

Humans Could Take Up A LOT Less Space
We'd have a lot more room for gardening...

Implosion Fabrication Shrinks 3D Objects To Nanoscale
'Carter had watched miniaturization a hundred times...'

GMO Houseplant Cleans Your Air
Removes compounds too small to be captured by a HEPA filter.

Nova Meat Can 3D Print Your Dinner
Printing out chicken nuggets.

MIT Scientists Create 'Peek-a-Boo Prober' From Jetsons
Well, George, it's the latest thing.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.