3D Printing Parts from Moon Rock, in Space?
Amit Bandyopadhyay and Susmita Bose, engineering professors at Washington State University, are well known researchers in the area of 3D printing for creation of bone-like materials for orthopedic implants. In 2010, researchers from NASA contacted Bandyopadhyay, asking if the research team might be able to print 3D objects from moon rock. Because of the tremendous expense of space travel, researchers strive to limit what space ships have to carry. To test the idea, NASA researchers provided Bandyopadhyay and Bose with ten pounds of raw lunar regolith simulant, an imitation moon rock that is used for research purposes. The researchers are now the first to demonstrate the ability to fabricate parts using the moon-like material. "It doesn't look fantastic, but you can make something out of it," says Bandyopadhyay.