Skip to main content

3D printing with Mars dust? It’s not as silly as it sounds

A team of researchers at Washington State University (WSU) have turned a simulated version of Martian rock into a “high-performance material” that can be fed into a 3D printer.

In a blog post, the academics explained the development could allow for essential tools and rocket parts to be manufactured on Mars itself, solving a variety of problems associated with the need to transport heavy payloads to the Red Planet.

“In space, 3D printing is something that has to happen if we want to think of a manned mission because we really cannot carry everything from here,” explained Amit Bandyopadhyay, a professor at WSU. “And if we forgot something, we cannot come back to get it.”

3D printing on Mars

Not only are space missions limited by cargo capacity, but carrying heavy materials into space is also exceptionally costly. As explained in the blog post, it costs in the region of $54,000 for a NASA shuttle to place just one kilo of material into Earth’s orbit, let alone transporting it to Mars.

“Anything that can be made in space, or on-planet, would save weight and money — not to mention if something breaks, astronauts would need a way to repair it on site,” wrote WSU.

To create a viable material, the researchers combined simulated Martian rock dust with a titanium alloy, selected for its strength and heat-resistant properties, and heated the materials to over 2,000 degrees Celsius using a high-powered laser.

Although a ceramic material made entirely from Mars dust was found to crack upon cooling, the team discovered that a mixture of 5% rock and 95% alloy was both lighter and stronger than titanium alloy alone.

Given the sums involved, even a small reduction in carry weight could translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars saved. Equally, in future, new techniques may be discovered that allow for materials made up of a larger proportion of Mars-native rock to be used in 3D printing processes.

“[Our technique] gives you a better, higher strength and hardness material, so that it can perform significantly better in some applications,” said Bandyopadhyay.

“This establishes that [creating composites suitable for 3D printing] is possible, and maybe we should think in this direction, because it’s not just making plastic parts which are weak but metal-ceramic composite parts which are strong and can be used for any kind of structural parts.”



Source: TechRadar

Popular posts from this blog

FCC approves broadband 'nutrition labels' to help you shop for internet

The FCC is pushing nutrition labels for internet providers. What you need to know The FCC has voted to move forward with new rules for ISPs to display nutrition labels. The proposed rulemaking would mandate ISPs to display relevant speed and pricing information to consumers. This should make it easier for consumers to make an informed decision on their broadband. The FCC voted unanimously on a plan that would allow consumers to make better decisions about their broadband internet. The proposal will require internet service providers (ISPs) - including many of the best wireless carriers in the U.S. — to display "nutrition labels" that display relevant service information for consumers at point-of-sale. This includes internet speeds, allowances, and clear information on rates. "If you walk into any grocery store and pull boxes of cereal from the shelves, you can easily compare calories and carbohydrates," FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statemen

Slack’s new integration deal with AWS could also be about tweaking Microsoft

Slack and Amazon announced a big integration late yesterday afternoon. As part of the deal, Slack will use Amazon Chime for its call feature, while reiterating its commitment to use AWS as its preferred cloud provider to run its infrastructure. At the same time, AWS has agreed to use Slack for internal communications. Make no mistake, this is a big deal as the SaaS communications tool increases its ties with AWS, but this agreement could also be about slighting Microsoft and its rival Teams product by making a deal with a cloud rival. In the past Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield has had choice words for Microsoft saying the Redmond technology giant sees his company as an “existential threat.” Whether that’s true or not — Teams is but one piece of a huge technology company — it’s impossible not to look at the deal in this context. Aligning more deeply with AWS sends a message to Microsoft, whose Azure infrastructure services compete with AWS. Butterfield didn’t say that of course

Yandex spins out self-driving car unit from its Uber JV, invests $150M into newco

Self-driving cars are still many years away from becoming a ubiquitous reality, but today one of the bigger efforts to build and develop them is taking a significant step out as part of its strategy to be at the forefront for when they do. Yandex — the publicly-traded Russian tech giant that started as a search engine but has expanded into a number of other, related areas (similar to US counterpart Google) — today announced that it is spinning out its self-driving car unit from MLU BV — a ride-hailing and food delivery joint venture it operates in partnership with Uber. The move comes amid reports that Yandex and Uber were eyeing up an IPO for MLU  last year. At the time, the JV was estimated to be valued at around $7.7 billion. It’s not clear how those plans will have been impacted in recent months, with COVID-19 putting huge pressure on ride-hailing and food-delivery businesses globally, and IPOs generally down compared to a year ago. In that context, spinning out the unit could

Elon Musk sends yet another notice trying to terminate the Twitter deal

Kristen Radtke / The Verge; Getty Images Elon Musk has sent a third letter to Twitter attempting to terminate his $44 billion acquisition of the company . Musk’s legal team cited Twitter’s multimillion dollar severance payment to former security chief and whistleblower Peiter Zatko as a violation of the merger agreement and a reason to end the deal. The letter, dated September 9th, was sent to Twitter’s chief legal officer Vijaya Gadde, and was included in a filing Twitter made with the SEC on Friday (which you can read at the bottom of this article). Last month, Zatko made headlines by accusing Twitter of misleading investors about the number of bots on the service, failing to delete users’ data, and having poor security practices, among other things. Musk jumped on the accusations, citing them in his second termination letter and subpoenaing Zatko to testify in the lawsuit. Zatko was set to be deposed on Friday. Elon Musk sent his first letter of termination in July , say