3D printing with moondust

Athanasios Goulas (Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Ross J. Friel (Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Publication date: 17 October 2016



The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect of the main process parameters of laser melting (LM) type additive manufacturing (AM) on multi-layered structures manufactured from JSC-1A Lunar regolith (Moondust) simulant powder.


Laser diffraction technology was used to analyse and confirm the simulant powder material particle sizes and distribution. Geometrical shapes were then manufactured on a Realizer SLM™ 100 using the simulant powder. The laser-processed samples were analysed via scanning electron microscopy to evaluate surface and internal morphologies, X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to analyse the chemical composition after processing, and the samples were mechanically investigated via Vickers micro-hardness testing.


A combination of process parameters resulting in an energy density value of 1.011 J/mm2 allowed the successful production of components directly from Lunar regolith simulant. An internal relative porosity of 40.8 per cent, material hardness of 670 ± 11 HV and a dimensional accuracy of 99.8 per cent were observed in the fabricated samples.


This research paper is investigating the novel application of a powder bed fusion AM process category as a potential on-site manufacturing approach for manufacturing structures/components out of Lunar regolith (Moondust). It was shown that this AM process category has the capability to directly manufacture multi-layered parts out of Lunar regolith, which has potential applicability to future moon colonization.



Goulas, A. and Friel, R. (2016), "3D printing with moondust", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 22 No. 6, pp. 864-870. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-02-2015-0022

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