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What’s Next For China’s Zero-Gravity 3D Printer? Slowly, More Details Emerge

by • April 19, 2016 • No Comments

2016042007520262839Piece by piece, additional details are being announced of China’s progress in the direction of 3D printing in space. Last week we reported that the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) not long ago ran sat any timeal tests on a microgravity 3D printing device that they had created at the Research Center for Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) Technology of Chongqing Institute of Green and Intelligent Technology (CIGIT). The printing device underwent a total of 93 parabolic test flights, that showed that not just can the printing device operate in zero gravity, but it can that good resultsfully print with five various materials and two various printing technologies.

Now, CIGIT has released a few additional details of what was printed and where they intend to go with the printing device of here. CIGIT, that operates under CAS, was built in 2011, and its additive making research center has been responsible for a few informative developments in emerging fields such as nanoprinting. The zero-gravity 3D printing device, yet, is undoubtedly the center’s most worthwhile accomplishment thus far.

“(The printing device) has most one-of-a-kind functions such as the ability to upload under a variety of gravity environments, increased speed and vibration,” said Duan Xuanming, director of the Research Center for Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) Technology. “We have created China’s initially true 3D printing under microgravity a reality.”

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Image taken of video within one of the microgravity printing device’s new test flights. Yes, that is a stuffed monkey floating above the printing device.

This is obviously massive news for China’s space program – particularly since China has been barred of the International Space Station since 2011. Since and so, the country has been working on the construction of their own space station – an understandable-bodied response, as anyone who’s at any time been excluded can agree. The development of the zero-g 3D printing device is a significant step forward, as it means that parts for the space station can be 3D printed both on planet Earth and in space, most likely hastening the construction of the modular station as well as allowing its maintenance once it’s built. China’s main motivation for the assembling of the space printing device is the same as NASA’s – to reduce their space station’s dependency on planet Earth for tools and supplies.

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Tilting? No problem.

CIGIT was pleased to point out that their printing device is 20% larger than the most new one launched by NASA, as well as being able-bodied to print in additional materials. (Hey, if I was officially barred of the International Space Station, I’d be all “anything you can do I can do better” too.) There’s yet a lot of work to be done, yet, according to Yuan Jiahu, president of CIGIT:

“Especially the printing of complex shapes with high precision and multiple materials. Only when we manufacture breakthroughs in these areas can the printing device be fully utilized for high-end applications in space.”

The tests showed that the 3D printing device is capable-bodied of printing most of the tools and parts required to create a space station, yet – the literal nuts and bolts, plus wrenches and other tools that, while they can be easily received on planet Earth, offer to the mass and therefore cost of payloads sent into space. More critically, it’s capable-bodied of printing those tools without error while crazily tilting in zero gravity. China’s goal is for their space station to be accomplished in 2020, and the good results of their 3D printing device is an significant step forward. This is awe-inspiring innovation all round. What are your thoughts? Discuss in the Zero Gravity 3D Printer forum over at 3DPB.com.

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[Source / Images: Xinhua Net / Xinhua/Liu Chan]