China Also Has a Space 3D Printer! Or Do They?

By on December 12th, 2014 in Usage

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We’ve reported on NASA’s currently on-orbit 3D printer and also ESA’s project to develop their own. Now we see China has one, too.

According to a report on China’s Xinhua News, such a 3D “printing machine” has already been produced. We’re a little confused by the report, which says: 

The machine is capable of printing optical lens brackets used in spaceborne equipment, complicated components used in nuclear power testing equipment, impellers used in aircraft research and special-shaped gears used in automobile engines.


The machine, which uses both long-wave fiber and short-wave carbon dioxide lasers, can produce items smaller than 250 millimeters.


The machine, which looks like a gray cabinet, can fashion items out of stainless steel, titanium alloy and nickel-based superalloy.

Ok, let’s digest this. According to report, it would appear that China has produced a working 3D printer capable of operating in a weightless environment, that can print objects as small as 250mm in metal using fiber / CO2 lasers.

Call us skeptical. You may be too. 

Aside from the “250mm” statistic, which most likely means 0.250mm, it’s unlikely they’ve made a metal 3D printer for space. Why? You might want to read our piece from earlier this week discussing that very issue

Finally, we saw no images of the mysterious space device in the report. As they often say, it doesn’t exist unless there’s pictures. Has anyone seen this machine? 

Via Xinhua

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!