3D printing with moondust

2015-07-17T11:00:26Z (GMT) by Athanasios Goulas Ross Friel
Purpose – 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. Design/methodology/approach – 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 (SEM) to evaluate surface and internal morphologies, Energy-dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDS) to analyse the chemical composition after processing and the samples were mechanically investigated via Vickers micro-hardness testing. Findings – 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 %, material hardness of 670 ± 11 HV and a dimensional accuracy of 99.8 % were observed in the fabricated samples. Originality/value – 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.