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Scientists at the Technology and Engineering Center for Space Utilization of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have successfully completed an experiment to 3D print ceramic parts containing lunar dust under microgravity. Using Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology on board the Airbus ZERO-G parabolic flight aircraft run by Novespace of Switzerland. The 3D printing experiment further explores the potential of building bases on planets in outer space.
According to Wang Gong, Director of the CAS Key Laboratory of Space Manufacturing Technology, this demonstration marks the world’s first ceramic manufacturing experiment under microgravity.
DLP - Technology - Microgravity - Environment - Gong
“[DLP] is a widely used 3D printing technology, but it’s previously been regarded as inapplicable in a microgravity environment,” said Gong.
A ceramic sample produced under microgravity. Photo via the Technology and Engineering Center for Space Utilization of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Times - China - Development - Art - Ceramics
Since predynastic times, China has shown continuous development in the art of ceramics and with its versatile properties, CSA scientists believe it will contribute to the sustainability of human life during future space operations.
With a form similar to the raw materials of ceramics, the team of scientists from CSA used dust from the moon’s surface (Lunar dust) which comprised of silicate particles at nanometer or sub-micrometer scale.
Lunar - Soil - Regolith - Titanium - Aluminum
The lunar soil and regolith contained titanium, aluminum, and iron which also lead scientists to conduct metal casting techniques using 3D printed ceramic molds.
Similar to the SLA process, Digital Light Processing (DLP) uses a more conventional light source, such as an arc lamp with a liquid crystal display panel that is applied to the entire surface of the vat of photopolymer resin.
Scientists - Dust - Resin - Paste - DLP
Chinese scientists mixed the lunar dust into a resin to form a paste and then solidified it using DLP technology.
“WE CAN DEVELOP THE TECHNOLOGY TO MANUFACTURE CERAMIC MOLDS WITH THE LUNAR DUST, AND THEN CAST COMPONENTS BY USING METALS IN THE...
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