Getting people to the moon is going to involve 3D printing in some way, though likely multiple ways. One of my personal favorites is using moondust to print lunar bases. In a separate but related development, the Ames Research Center was one of 12 projects to receive NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase 1 awards worth $100,000.
“Imagine being able to print anything from tools and composite building materials to food and human tissues,” states the NIAC page on in situ, on-demand printing of advanced biocomposites. “By printing 3D arrays of cells engineered to secrete the necessary materials, the abundant in situ resources of atmosphere and regolith become organic, inorganic, or organic-inorganic composite materials. Such materials include novel, biologically derived materials not previously possible to fabricate.” The sugars and acids created from the biochemical processes that arise from algae exposed to heat (sunlight) and CO2 can be used to build engineered cells that are then 3D printed in arrays. Such organic materials could be combined with regolith (moondust/rock) to create novel materials.
3D printed biomaterial composites may be the most efficient method of erecting moon houses, but the technology will do more than that. “Imagine being on Mars with the ability to replace any broken part, whether it’s a part of your spacesuit, your habitat, or your own body.” Yeah, I watched Moon.