Future Lunar Colonists Could Build with 3D-Printed Moondust Bricks
ESA engineers have 3D printed bricks out of simulated moondust using concentrated sunlight - proving in principle that future lunar colonists could one day use the same approach to build settlements on the Moon. As raw material, the engineers used commercially-available simulated lunar soil based on terrestrial volcanic material, processed to mimic the composition and grain sizes of genuine moondust. The solar furnace used has 147 curved mirrors that focus sunlight into a high-temperature beam to melt the soil grains together. The resulting bricks have the equivalent strength of gypsum, and are set to undergo detailed mechanical testing. This was all accomplished on a 3D printer table, to bake successive 0.1 mm layers of moondust. A 20 x 10 x 3 cm brick was completed in around five hours.