If humanity is going to 3D-print Moon bases, it can’t afford for things to go wrong — and NASA is backing technology to make sure those parts get built. According to Parabolic Arc, the agency recently selected a project from Relativity Space (which is working on 3D-printed rockets) that could detect and fix 3D printing in real time. If production of a habitat piece or radiation shield goes awry, the technology could automatically catch defects and repair them, determine if a print is still viable or even scrap work entirely.
This is the first phase of the project, and there are still details to address. NASA is giving Relativity Space $125,000 over six months to further its work.
A successful project could mean a lot for not just space exploration, but production as a whole. Settlers on the Moon, Mars and beyond could reduce their dependence on Earth supplies knowing they could reliably print parts using the local soil. This could also help with general 3D printing. You wouldn’t have to worry as much about flaws that could force you to toss out your creations.