Stone tools on the moon29 Nov 2012
Moon rock is expensive here on Earth, but on the moon it’s as cheap as dirt. So maybe future moon colonists could make stuff out of it using 3-d printing technology?
Typically, lasers use 300 to 400 watts to melt conductive metals. But the moon material was more similar to ceramics Bandyopadhyays area of expertise. He had used that material for 3-D printing through selective laser sintering, where a powder is fused with intensely focused pulses of light, layer by layer, to form a specific object. He knew that throwing metal-specific levels of power at an insulator like this would only cause most of the energy to be absorbed, and the molten material to lose viscosity.
If you go higher, then what will happen is you will go from honey to water, and then what happens? says Bandyopadhyay. It flows so much that you cannot make a part. So you need to have, you know, high enough to melt, but low enough not to overflow, basically. Thats the challenge.
Now imagining casts made from lunar regolith.
I hate the idea of having to depend on tools made from an inferior material, when slightly greater expense and more time could transport metals from the asteroid belt. Oh, wait a minute - that’s the basic tradeoff of Oldowan technology in Africa, isn’t it?