Fused Layer Deposition

Fused Fiber Layer Deposition (FFLD) of Lunar regolith

June 2023 – November 2024
European Space Agency (ESA) project

In future lunar explorations, In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) is key, with Additive Manufacturing (AM) using lunar regolith as feedstock offering independence from Earth and enhancing sustainability. Methods such as lasers, microwaves, and concentrated sunlight have been suggested for regolith AM. Fused Layer Deposition (FLD) of Lunar regolith simulant, explored in a previous ESA Discovery Study involved building a 3D printer for layer-wise melt extrusion of molten regolith, producing glassy parts. While processes exist for fibers and extraterrestrial concrete blocks, there are no proposals for additively manufacturing fiber-reinforced composites from regolith feedstock to date. This innovative approach to lunar component manufacturing promises increased autonomy for Moon missions, reducing reliance on Earth’s resources.

ESA project as part of the Open Space Innovation Platform (OSIP) – Off-Earth Manufacturing Campaign

Consortium partners  

University of Aalen – Germany / University of Aachen RWTH – Germany / LIQUIFER Systems Group – Austria

LIQUIFER team  Waltraut Hoheneder, Barbara Imhof, René Waclavicek, Monika Brandic Lipinska, Darren Berlein

 Image credit: courtesy of NASA
A view of the moon’s surface as captured by the Orion spacecraft on day 20 of the Artemis I mission.