The emerging technology of 3D Printing is promising to change the world in so many ways that it has proven to be beyond evaluation. Some researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago have found a way to use the technology to change other worlds as well, using simulations of moon and Mars dust to make things that can be as small as a spare part or as large as a habitat structure.

The process combines the simulated dust with solvents and a biopolymer to create simple structures that are 90 dust by weight. The material is elastic and tough, similar to rubber.

The material can be cut and shaped into anything desired once it comes out of the 3D printer.

The next step in the research and development project is to find a way to heat the resulting structures to run the rubbery material into a hard ceramic. Thar process would be the final step in making the shell of a surface habitat on the surface of the moon or Mars made up almost entirely of local materials. The technology promises to revolutionize the way people from Earth propose to live on other worlds.

Moon dust consists of fine, jagged particles produced by the constant bombardment of the lunar surface by meteors and solar wind. The Apollo astronauts found the material to be a nuisance, getting on their space suits so that they had to be brushed off once they got back into the lunar module.

The tiny, jagged material could prove to be a health hazard if breathed in.

Mars dust is of a similar nature but is also kicked up by Martian Dust storms that sometimes cover much of the whole planet. Both moon and Mars dust are different from Earth soil in that it does not have any organic material.

The Northwest University experiments point to a time when the first visitors back to the moon or Mars would be robots designed to create habitats on each of those respective worlds.

Some robots would scoop up the local dust. Others would combine the dust with the solvents and biopolymers to create the structures of a base. Another robot would heat the structures to harden them into a ceramic. Finally, the habitats would have things like lighting and environmental systems added to make them fully functional.

Only as the last step would astronauts arrive and take possession of their new homes. From their prefabricated habitats, the people from Earth would set about exploring a new world, unlocking its secrets and exploiting it for its mineral wealth.