“The key for living on Mars is to use the raw materials that are already there” said Bruce Mackenzie, founder of the Mars Foundation, an organization that aims to build and operate the first permanent settlement on Mars. Now, as it turns out, 3D printing can be an answer to this requirement. 3D Printers have become more sophisticated, easy to move and very fast. Also, a greater choice of engineering materials is now available for creating objects of choice.
Firstly, all an astronaut needs to take along will be a 3D printer with the right software library of tools and spare parts (plus some raw materials). It would probably cut fuel costs by a lot and the packing for the space trip will be easier than a business trip.
Engineers at Mars Foundation hare exploring the possibility of manufacturing oxygen and methane, the gases and fuels needed to craft plastics like polyethylene, polyester and epoxy. According to Mackenzie, plastics can be made from the raw material already found on Mars. Plastics make it possible to build at a low cost, and also create irrigation pipes or manufacturing gears locally. What is required is set up of industrial cutters and 3D printers, to make things out of Martian raw materials, to start making a variety of objects needed for shelters, greenhouses and even parts for new 3D printers. A Contour Crafting robot, can even manufacture structures as large as apartment buildings and hotels using locally available materials such as clay and plaster.
Let us see how soon we can see soon the civilization flourishes on the red planet!