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Fused Fiber Layer Deposition (FFLD) of Lunar regolith



Prime contractor
Organisational Unit
05 May 2023

Duration: 18 months


In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) will be a fundamental approach for future lunar explorations. Regarding manufacturing of components for research and daily live on the Moon, Additive Manufacturing (AM) using lunar regolith as the feedstock can play an important role to make the lunar explorations independent from the Earth; therefore, increase the sustainability of the future lunar missions. Various methods for AM of regolith have been proposed, using lasers, microwave or concentrated sunlight [1, 2]. Fused Layer Deposition (FLD) of Lunar regolith simulant as an AM candidate for lunar surface, has been investigated as a part of the ESA Discovery Study Contract no. 4000133528 [3]. In the FLD project (study program), a 3D printer was built in which fabrication of three-dimensional glassy parts were done by layer-wise melt extrusion of the molten regolith. Molten regolith underwent oven annealing during and after the 3D printing process. Processes have been proposed to produce fibres from regolith as a reinforcement to extraterrestrial concrete blocks obtained by casting [4, 5]. However, to date, no processes have been proposed to additively manufacture fiber-reinforced composite materials, from regolith feedstock. Such capability would improve the toughness and damage resistance of regolith-based materials, compared to monolithic printed regolith. The possibility to additively manufacture the composites significantly opens the design space, compared to cast concrete slabs. This would open the range of application possibilities for regolith-based manufacturing materials. In this study, we propose to build on the existing FLD 3D printer to achieve fibre-reinforced composite 3D printing, for Fused Fiber Layer Deposition (FFLD). In FFLD, the extruded molten lines will be reinforced by fibers which will be pulled along with the molten extruded lines. Various regolith simulants will be tested.

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Fused Fiber Layer Deposition (FFLD) of Lunar regolith