3D printer can make space tools from moon rocks: Study

A patch of windblown sand and dust downhill from a cluster of dark rocks at the

A patch of windblown sand and dust downhill from a cluster of dark rocks at the "Rocknest" site on Mars is shown in this September 28, 2012 NASA handout photo. This view is a mosaic of images taken by the telephoto right-eye camera of the Mast Camera (Mastcam). (REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:46 PM ET

In the future, settlers on the moon or Mars will be able to use 3D printers to make tools out of space rocks, a new study suggests.

"It sounds like science fiction, but now it's really possible," Amit Bandyopadhyay of Washington State University said.

Space travel is costly, so a lunar or Martian outpost would need on-hand materials for construction or repairs.

3D printing — a new and burgeoning technology — uses raw materials to build objects layer upon layer based on computer designs.

The team used raw lunar regolith simulant, an imitation moon rock, to build a few simple tools.

"It doesn't look fantastic, but you can make something out of it," Bandyopadhyay said.

As 3D printing advances, so will the tools it can create.

"As long as you can have additive manufacturing set up, you may be able to scoop up and print whatever you want. It's not that far-fetched."


Videos

Photos