Constructing with Lunar Mud

Science Fields

A research team from the Skoltech Centre for Design, Manufacturing, and Materials (CDMM) in Russia has published a comprehensive review of the use of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies (also known as 3-D printing) in crewed lunar expeditions. The article, published in Acta Astronautica, includes an extensive description of the geological composition of the lunar surface, the properties of lunar soil (lunar regolith) and its simulants, as well as their mineralogy, morphology, and chemical composition to see if they could be used as 3D printing materials during future surface missions on the Moon.

Researchers evaluated several different 3D printing techniques presented in the literature in terms of their suitability for on-site manufacturing and maintenance, by focusing on how to adapt these AM methods to low gravity, limited energy consumption, and constraints on dimension and weight.

The emphasis was on stereolithography, a technique generally used in the production of ceramics and semiconductors. For test printing, they obtained samples of lunar soil simulants developed on Earth.

They first had to transform this regolith simulant into a raw material that can be used in 3D printing. They preferred mixing it with a liquid to obtain a paste and thus created a material suitable for stereolithography. Printing the material was not too difficult, and the resulting joined parts were recognizable, although not structured to be useful.

The team hopes that their review will help researchers around the world in finding the most promising AM techniques for further research and development and encourage more teams to be involved in these studies. This will eventually contribute to the sustainable development of future lunar infrastructure and the presence of humans in space.

The Skoltech team plans to manufacture more complex functional structures such as living modules, perform mechanical tests, and adapt the technology for autonomous operation in lunar gravity.[


  • 1. https://www.skoltech.ru/en/2021/01/3d-printing-to-pave-the-way-for-moon-colonization/
  • 2. https://www.universetoday.com/149771/3-d-printing-on-the-moon-from-regolith-to-paste-to-useful-objects-and-structures/