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Could 3D objects be printed from a distance? Say, by pointing a laser at a stone wall?

I'm not concerned with whether the requisite technology already exists or would be difficult to build, but rather, whether something like this could be built in principle, or if there is either a law of physics or a massive intractability that would prevent it.

If it is possible, I'm interested in the theoretical limits. How far away can the material be (e.g. can we print something on the moon with a laser stationed on earth)? Can any material be used? Etc.

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    $\begingroup$ Engineering.se is nonspeculative. All current 3D printing methods work by providing a material flow. So the local situation must be quite special. $\endgroup$ – joojaa Sep 30 '19 at 5:12
  • $\begingroup$ In addition to material flow issues there would be the issues of beam divergence over such a distance & the precision of beam placement on the moon. A minute error in beam position angle on Earth would be a significant distance on the moon. $\endgroup$ – Fred Sep 30 '19 at 5:23
  • $\begingroup$ I think position error is the key problem here - the best mechanisms that we have for aiming lasers can provide pinpoint accuracy up close, but as you increase the distance from the source, the error would quickly become much too large for the printed object to remain useful $\endgroup$ – Jonathan R Swift Sep 30 '19 at 8:26
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    $\begingroup$ A laser on it's own can only remove material, not do additive printing. $\endgroup$ – Transistor Sep 30 '19 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Transistor What if the object is in some special gaseous athmosphere what solidifies on heat? My first idea is to have a nearly-100% acetylene atmosphere, mixed with some catalyzer / stabilizer. It would be transparent, so it would not interact with the laser beam, but it would heat the target object on its entry point, resulting the condensation of some poliymer. Although I am not very sure if any practical usage of such a system would worth its price. $\endgroup$ – peterh - Reinstate Monica Oct 1 '19 at 15:42

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