With the invention of 3D printing technology all the human fields of life are on the rise. Space travel fever has spread the world, and scientists direct energies to create new solutions allowing to build Moon and Mars bases on the spot. Self-replicating machines-meaning 3D printers which can build other 3D printers and equipment-are being developed in different parts of the world.
Scientists from Carleton University of Canada take as a base the RepRap 3D printer (which already can print many of its plastic parts) and are developing a new 3D printer that can create copies of itself from lunar material and could enable humans to build an outpost on the Moon in future. When the printer is delivered to the Moon, it would copy itself till there are enough machines to build all the equipment and infrastructure for human exploration. All of it would be done without human presence.
The thing is how to get the needed materials on the spot. The researchers suggest that a 3D printer with a robotic arm would scoop up the lunar regolith, heat it to 900 degrees Celsius with the help of a so-frensel lens to focus sunlight into a beam, that would remove volatile gases and separate ilmenite from which iron would be extracted.
With the inventions of the British researchers from the University of Bath (the UK) who are developing a 3D printer producing a fully functioning electric motor from material similar to what can be sourced on the moon-and with solar panels turning solar power into energy-the whole project may spring to life.