Above: PISCES’ research to create ISRU basalt tiles will stack up to the challenge of a NASA STTR grant project.

An additive manufacturing project led by Masten Space Systems in partnership with PISCES was named last month among the top 15 most exciting 3-D printing projects funded by NASA this year. 3Dprint.com recognized the project among more than 300 selected for NASA STTR and SBIR grant funding.

The project aims to develop a low-energy additive construction technique to build infrastructure on the moon and Mars using a novel binding agent. PISCES has been researching basalt sintering using heat; the inclusion of a binder in an aqueous solution would eliminate the requirement of a high-energy input. Initial tests have shown the binding agent will also work in the vacuum of space, and could be a game changer for additive manufacturing applications on other worlds.