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Martian Colonists Could 3D Print Tools from Red Planet’s Dust

Live Science discovered a recent article in the journal Scientific Reports written by a team of researchers at Northwestern University in Illinois.  These scientists have developed a new method of 3D printing which may, in the future, allow Martian colonists to print tools using that red planet’s dust.

The team’s simulation suggests “Martian and Lunar dust [could be used] to 3D print flexible, tough rubber tools.”  These Martian explorers could even use this innovative 3D printing technique in order to create temporary housing.

As Ramille Shah, a Materials Scientist at Northwestern University explains, “for places like other planets and moons, where resources are limited, people would need to use what is available on that planet in order to live.  Our 3D paints really open up the ability to print different functional or structural objects to make habitats beyond Earth.”

“The researchers used simulated dusts based on real Lunar and Martian samples.  The synthetic dust contains mixtures of aluminum oxide, silicon dioxide, iron oxide, and other compounds… the team developed a process that combines simulated Lunar and Martian dust with solvents and a biopolymer to create these extraterrestrial inks.  The inks were then 3D printed into different shapes using an extruder.”

“In the end, the objects – which were composed of about 90 percent dust – were tough and flexible, and could withstand the rolling, cutting, and folding needed to print almost any 3D shape.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Live Science

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