Mars is lacking in vast supply & # 39; natural resources we depend here on Earth, and astronauts trying to colonize, or even visited, the red planet may bring limited supply & # 39; materials. Learning to do with & # 39; what it offers Mars is one of the biggest challenges to visit our nearest neighbor, but the results of & # 39; recent experiments & # 39; 3D printing & # 39; the European Space Agency show that impossible.
We've probes and rovers to Mars, but & # 39; now it was only travel in & # 39; in one direction. Our knowledge about what comprises Mars is limited to what the Spirit and Opportunity can learn from the samples, and studying the Martian meteorites that have made their way to the World. Like our Moon, Mars if there is one thing missing, is a powder.
So as a stand in for genuine ingredients & # 39; Mars, the researchers resorted to a simulated version of & # 39; Lunar soil, known as lunar regolita.
Working with & # 39; Australian company called Lithoz, 3D printed sample ESA & # 39; various parts using & # 39; thickeners sensitive light mixed with regolith – which is made from silicon, aluminum, calcium and iron oxides which have been ground to a very fine powder.
Instead of heating the mixture, its extrusion is similar to a hot glue, and allow to cool and hardens, technique & # 39; 3D printing used here instead of down very thin layer of the mixture regolith, they exposed to light.
The parts are then baked at & # 39; oven to create a solid ceramic is not only strong, but also features a & # 39; smooth and uniform texture to be compatible with & # 39; machined parts that were created with very high precision. If you have kept a 3D printed object made from melted plastic, the obvious imperfections on their surface are easy to verify, and are problematic for use in & # 39; of & # 39; precision machinery.
The next step & # 39; ESA is to thoroughly test the strength and durability of & # 39; those with 3D printed parts, to determine whether they can rely on the roughness of & # 39; travel & # 39; space and life in & # 39; harsh environment. Eventually, instead draw a trailer filled with spare parts, led mission to Mars is merely brings digital archive of all parts used in ship and other structures, 3D printer, and maybe a bucket to collect the local soil.[European Space Agency via designboom]