What’s happening now? Going green (into space)
With ESA’s well-equipped 3devo set-up, they have taken full advantage of the machine’s capabilities – leading them to their latest discovery. For long missions in space, astronauts need self-reliant tools to be able to manufacture parts and structures. An additive manufacturing process such as FDM is ideal for this application, thanks to its flexibility and efficient material usage. Seems ideal, right? Unfortunately, there is a catch. FDM requires large amounts of plastic to create 3D parts – costing the agency time and money since materials must be sent from Earth.
With the initiative of ESA’s Spaceship EAC, materials engineer trainee, Benoît Andre, was assigned to find a new material that would reduce costs and minimize plastic sent into space. The answer he unveiled was the usage of the moon’s resources. Benoît commenced a world premiere by creating a composite material from a PLA/Lunar powder mixture for FDM printing.