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Scientists hope 3D printing will help colonize Mars

Photo courtesy: NASA

Photo courtesy: NASA

Digital writers

Monday, October 7, 2013, 3:58 PM -

Dutch organization Mars One hopes to begin a human colony on the red planet by 2030. So far, more than 150,000 people from around the world have signed up for a one-way ticket, despite the obvious risks.

Even if settlers arrive in one piece, they will be faced with numerous challenges -- among them, establishing food and shelter.

But researchers at the Mars Foundation, another organization aiming to settle on Mars, hope that 3D printing could make these daunting tasks a little bit easier.

It's been theorized that 3D printers will help colonists design the tools needed to create homes and greenhouses, among other things.

According to Bruce Mackenzie, founder of the Mars Foundation, the raw materials needed to create plastic can already be found on the red planet -- opening the door to low-cost building.

Producing different types of plastic could serve various purposes like making pipes for greenhouse irrigation or printing gears for another 3D printer, he told space.com.

While a 3D printer won't be able to make large objects, it could create the tools necessary to make fibreglass and cement out of Martian sand, Mackenzie said.

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