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China's First Space 3D Printer Developed
   2016-04-20 08:35:43    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Xie Cheng

Photo taken on April 19, 2016 shows some space station's components printed by a micro-g 3D printer at a research center in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, April 19, 2016. The Research Center for Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) Technology of Chongqing Institute of Green and Intelligent Technology announced on Tuesday that the first micro-g 3D printer was successfully developed.  [Photo: Xinhua/Liu Chan]

It's been announced that China has developed its first zero-gravity 3D printer.

The device has been specially designed for use in a space station.

With the help of in-orbit 3D printing, astronauts will be able to make their own tools and parts for experiments and maintenance in a weightless environment, which could reduce a space station's dependency on supplies from Earth.

Duan Xuanming helped develop the technology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Chongqing Institute of Green and Intelligent Technology - CIGIT.

"It has many unique functions such as the ability to upload under a variety of gravity environments, increased speed and vibration. We have made China's first true 3D printing under microgravity a reality."

Duan also noted the device was 20 percent larger than the one sent into space by the U.S. space agency NASA, on March 26.

However, Yuan Jiahu, president of the CIGIT, said there still remain some problems that must be resolved.

"Especially the printing of complicated shapes with high precision and multiple materials. Only when we make breakthroughs in these areas can the printer be fully used for high-end applications in space."

The printer completed a weightlessness parabolic flight experiment in Bordeaux of France last month to test its functionality in microgravity.  

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