Follow us:

The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

November 28, 2012 at 4:48 PM

WSU’s 3-D printer creates objects out of faux moon rocks

In October, a team of University of Washington students won an international prize for figuring out how to “print” large objects, using plastic garbage and a 3-D printer. Now comes word that researchers at Washington State University have figured out how to print simple objects with moon rocks.

Well, faux moon rocks, actually.

NASA officials approached WSU researchers two years ago, wanting to know if  it was possible to take a substance that’s similar to pulverized moon rocks and use 3-D printing technology to “print” objects with the material, said Amit Bandyopadhyay, a professor in WSU’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

He and Susmita Bose, another professor in the mechanical and materials engineering school, are known for using 3-D printing to create bone-like materials for orthopedic implants.

Bandyopadhyay said NASA wanted to test the concept because if astronauts in a moon-based spacecraft ever need to create an object from scratch, or repair a part on the spacecraft, a 3-D printer could be used to create an object from moon materials.  The moon rock can also be melted and used as a kind of glue, he said.

The professors used a special 3-D printer that employs a laser beam as a heat source, and melted the rock into a ceramic-like material, making several simple objects.

The 3-D printer used for the project was purchased in part with a $750,000 grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation. NASA provided the researchers with 10 pounds of raw lunar regolith simulant, an imitation moon rock.

“It was a fun project for us,” Bandyopadhyay said.

Here’s a video of Bandyopadhyay describing the work:

0 Comments | Topics: 3-D printing, moon rock, WSU

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


Advertising
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►