A team of scientists from the United States has conducted a series of tests using simulated crushed Martian regolith to demonstrate how it could be used as a 3D-printing material.
This technology can then be used during future crewed missions to Mars, drastically reducing the cost of flights to the Red Planet since astronauts will be able to manufacture all sorts of items directly on Mars.
In most of their experiments, the researchers mixed different amounts of simulated Martian regolith with a titanium alloy. They also tried to make a 3D-printing material from pure simulated regolith.
The researchers heated the dry ingredients and poured the melted material into a 3D printer, testing each resulting object for durability and strength.
They eventually found out that the mixture with 5% Martian regolith was harder and stronger than the titanium alloy alone. The pure regolith cracked as it cooled, but astronauts could use it for radiation shield coating that would not be affected by cracking.
The research of the team was published in the International Journal of Applied Ceramic Technology.