There have been many plans - some good, some bad, some silly - to build the first manned base on the moon, but many have two key drawbacks: cost and weight. To launch any habitat from Earth to the moon (and, indeed, land it safely on the lunar surface) is costly, therefore novel ideas for habitat construction are needed. Wouldn't it be great if we could build a lunar base from material mined in-situ (i.e., moon rock and regolith)?
One emerging technology that space engineers are currently eying is the 3D printer. Already being used in industry and the arts, 3D printers work by spraying a material - commonly some kind of plastic - layer by layer, often building complex shapes that wouldn't normally be possibly via traditional construction techniques. The only restriction to the size of the object you're printing is the size of the printer.
So the European Space Agency has revealed big plans for the technology after announcing a partnership with the renowned architecture firm Foster + Partners to assess the feasibility of using lunar material in an extraterrestrial 3D printer to build a moon base.