03/05/2017 8:00 am
ESA–G. Porter, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
A triangular brick 3D printed out of simulated moondust using concentrated sunlight. It was produced using a 3D printer table, to bake successive 0.1 mm layers of moondust at 1000°C, to complete a 20 x 10 x 3 cm brick for building in around five hours. As raw material, the test used commercially available simulated lunar soil based on terrestrial volcanic material, processed to mimic the composition and grain sizes of genuine moondust.
The solar furnace at the DLR German Aerospace Center facility in Cologne has two working setups. As a baseline, 147 curved mirrors focus sunlight into a high-temperature beam to melt the soil grains together. But the weather in northern Europe does not always cooperate, so the Sun is sometimes simulated by an array of xenon lamps more typically found in cinema projectors.
The resulting bricks have the equivalent strength of gypsum, and are set to undergo detailed mechanical testing.
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