Scientists in China have developed a new Additive Manufacturing (AM) machine, the first of its kind in China, that will allow astronauts to produce a range of items made from stainless steel, titanium alloy and nickel-based superalloy, whilst in space.
According to Wang Lianfeng, a Senior Engineer with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC) in Shanghai, the machine is capable of printing products such as optical lens brackets used in space borne equipment, complicated components used in nuclear power testing equipment and impellers used in aircraft research.
“The products made will have to be tested thoroughly, due to the strict quality requirements of aerospace products,” stated Wang, adding that the prospect for 3D printing is promising.
The dual laser AM machine uses both long-wave fibre and short-wave carbon dioxide lasers and has a build size of up to 250 mm. Several patents have been applied for.