3-D Printer Used to Make Parts from Moon Rock

"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 recently published a paper in Rapid Prototyping Journal demonstrating how to print parts using materials from the moon. Bandyopadhyay and Susmita Bose, professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, are well known researchers in the area of three-dimensional printing, creating bone-like materials for orthopedic implants. In 2010, researchers from NASA initiated discussion with Bandyopadhyay, 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." More

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