One potential drawback of building any structure on the Moon is the dependency on Earth to supply materials. Building a Moon Base is perhaps one of the most ambitious dreams of humanity, but just the potential cost of hauling supplies from Earth to a possible build site could cripple a project. Using 3D printing could solve not only the on-site building aspect of the problem but help with potential repairs.
Working with NASA, Relativity Space will develop a system capable of the real-time discovery and repair of defects during 3D printing. Selected by the Space Agency, for an award under its Small Business Innovation Research, the phase one award is worth up to $125,000 over six months. The project hopes to save time, material, and resources essential in space. If a print presents any fault, the Relativity Space project hopes to assess if it can repair it or it is a waste of time.
“Across all industry (not just NASA), real-time defect detection would allow for an immediate response–such as rework to print, validation of acceptable performance with the defect, or scrapping of the part before a print is completed.”
The tech, if implemented, can enable 3D printing off-planet, helping NASA tremendously with on-site manufacturing, producing from feedstock, or printing items that cannot launch from Earth. Good examples are habitat components, re-entry heat shields, or radiation shields, that can be printed directly on the Moon.