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researchers 3D-print lunar dust into screws and gears for use on the moon

regolith 3D printing: with the colonization of mars apparently imminent, it seems a few logistical issues need ironing out. one hurdle is shipping everything colonists need from earth – that’s how NASA handled lunar landings in the 60s and 70s. with improved technology this might not be necessary. researchers at the european space agency (ESA) have created fake moon dust (called ‘regolith’ in technical terms) and used it to 3D print small screws and gears.


according to a statement from the ESA, this material can be used as a kind of lunar ceramic.ground and sieved down to particle size, the regolith grains are mixed with a light-reacting binding agent, laid down layer-by-layer, then hardened by exposing them to light. the resulting printed part is then sintered in an oven to bake it solid.’


researchers 3D-print lunar dust into screws and gears for use on the moon regolith 3d-printing

3D-printing regolith to create small screws, bolts and other parts,

image courtesy of ESA



the potential application of 3D printing whilst on another planet, that uses local materials, is exciting. regolith-printing could remove the need for multiple trips back to earth, and help astronauts solve problems like broken equipment more efficiently – just ask mission control to send over a design and print.


the finely-detailed ceramic parts are the work of austrian company lithoz. this work was carried out as part of the URBAN project, supported through ESA’s discovery and preparation programme. ESA has awarded the study ‘conceiving a lunar base using 3D printing technologies’ to the URBAN consortium comprising of COMEX, LIQUIFER systems group and SONACA space GmbH under the lead of OHB system AG. the team evaluated the feasibility and implementation effort of using additive layer manufacturing in the construction, operations and maintenance of a lunar base.

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