Investigating the additive manufacture of extra-terrestrial materials

The Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) additive manufacturing process category, consists of a group of key enabling technologies allowing the fabrication of both intrinsic and complex structures for a series of applications, including aerospace and astronautics. The purpose of this investigation was to explore the potential application of in-space additive manufacturing/3D printing, for onsite fabrication of structures and parts, using the available extra-terrestrial natural resources as feedstock. This study was carried out by using simulants of terrestrial origin, mimicking the properties of those respective materials found extra-terram (in space). An investigation was conducted through material characterisation, processing and by powder bed fusion, and resultant examination by analytical techniques. The successful realisation of this manufacturing approach in an extra-terrestrial environment could enable a sustainable presence in space by providing the ability to build assets and tools needed for long duration/distance missions in deep space. Introduction