Airbus sending 3D printer to space station next year to pave way for off-Earth factories

European aerospace company Airbus will send a metal-crafting 3D printer to the International Space Station next year as a first step in its plans to set up an orbital satellite factory.

The printer, called Metal3D, can work with metals that melt at temperatures of up to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit (1,200 degrees Celsius). It will be the first metal 3D printer on the space stationAirbus said in a statement (opens in new tab), and will enable astronauts to print parts such as radiation shields and various tools. (American company Made In Space, now a subsidiary of Redwire, has sent several 3D printers to the space stationbut none of them can print metal.)

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