The Virtual Foundry, a firm famous for bringing metal 3D printing to makerspaces everywhere, has now taken things a step further with the development of a pretty special new filament.

Working alongside off-world architecture specialist Astroport Space Technologies, the company has come up with a moondust material that you can 3D print at your desktop. Pretty cool, right? Well… ‘Basalt Moon Dust Filamet’ isn’t really made from lunar regolith, it’s a simulant. 

Given the sheer size of the Moon, you’d think there’s enough to go around, but so far we’ve not collected sufficient moondust to sell the genuine article. Still, the PLA-bound, metal-infused alternative comes with some extremely impressive features. For a start, it’s sinterable. So, if you have a furnace to hand, 3D prints can be sintered into robust, corrosion-proof basalt parts. 

Arguably, this means the material has the potential to transform your average desktop 3D printer into a higher-end production powerhouse. When you consider that NASA has also been experimenting with simulated moondust 3D printing as part of its Artemis mission, it could yet find its way into in-orbit manufacturing applications too. 

Does this make The Virtual Foundry’s latest filament one small step for 3D printing, one giant leap for 3D printing-kind? Only time will tell. 

But with NASA’s mission to return to the Moon inching closer, you now have the opportunity to toy with a substance that could become key to building a lasting presence on the lunar surface – from the comfort of your own home! 

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