ESA will test 3D printing in space using scrap metal from the moon

Life on the moon it may still be a distant concept, but that hasn’t stopped space agencies from preparing for it. European Space Agency (ESA) recently partnered with Incus, OHB System AG and Lithoz GmbH in a joint project to develop and test 3D printing in a microgravity environment reminiscent of the Moon.

The project stems from the need to provide spare parts to the moon that have not flown through the Earth. The new technology uses recycled scrap metal powders that are readily available on the moon to produce new materials.

The metal production process (LMM), based on Incus lithography, is a form of 3D printing technology for the creation of modern metal parts that uses the principle of photopolymerization. Companies consider this a very sustainable type of 3D printing for this specific application.

“Lithographic techniques, such as those developed by Incus and Lithoz, allow the combination of high-precision 3D printing with high-performance metals and ceramics, while remaining extremely resource-efficient. Although these concepts have been successfully demonstrated on Earth, the activities of such projects are crucial to fill the technological gaps and allow the introduction of additive manufacturing in space, “said in a statement. declaration Dr. Martin Schwentenwein, Head of Material Development at Lithoz.

The project will last a total of 18 months and will be used to assess the feasibility of recycling metal waste available on the moon’s surface to produce a high-quality end product using a zero-waste environmental process. If they succeed, future missions to the moon will significantly reduce their dependence on Earth for everything from habitat creation for research materials.

The project will mean that future lunar settlers will be able to print 3D everything they need for their travels, requiring them to carry less material with them in their spacecraft. This will make them independent and inventive and will make it easier and easier to travel to the moon, as the basic materials will not have to be delivered from Earth, but will rather be created right on the moon.

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