When humans colonize the moon, ferrying materials across state/country/space lines may not be necessary. Instead, researchers might enlist 3D printers to construct lunar bases, using materials extracted directly from the Moon itself.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has partnered with architects Foster + Partners to further flesh out the innovative technique; so far, research has “confirmed the basic concept.” The process itself sounds like it’s made up: mix lunar material with magnesium oxide, apply binding salt, and then insert the 3D printer’s nozzle beneath the moon’s surface to act as a printing vacuum.
Researchers say the concept, if perfected, could churn out an entire building in a week’s time. Of course, much more research is required before such a concept is put into practice. Performing 3D printing down on Earth is much different than doing so on the Moon, seeing as conditions vary so wildly.
Not only that, but testing hasn’t actually been performed using lunar material. So, you know, everything is all preliminary at this point. Still, the concept, however unbelievable, might one day be doable. We’ll be colonizing the Moon in no time.