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Chinese Test Self Printing Robots

by Bryant Jordan on March 3, 2014

3D PrintingPrinting parts for a weapon is one thing – and there’s ample proof-of-concept about to show that 3D printers will only get better at that. But how about a weapon that at least in part builds itself?

Chinese scientists say they have found a way to produce liquid metals that self-assemble into various shapes and forms, according to a report in the London-based technology site The Register. Scientists at Tsinghua University and The Chinese Academy of Sciences say they can use electrical charges to manipulate liquid metal alloys they manufactured.

So far, the alloys have taken on spherical shapes that move and rotate and, by using electrical current, they have caused separate droplets of the metals to fuse together into larger sphere shapes, officials said.

“Such liquid metal transformers and locomotors could provide on-demand use given specific designing,” The Register quotes from the scientists’ paper.

The Chinese scientists say the technology will eventually lead to creating more complex liquid metal objects, from 3D modeling units to “soft” robots.

Last year Apple filed at least five liquid metal patents that it expects to use in the manufacture of its products.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Lance March 3, 2014 at 4:59 pm

So now robots wont need Chinese labor??? Its going to get real cheap at the 99 cents store.

All these years James Cameron got it wrong Skynet isn't American, USAF isn't the bad guy. China gets the world blown up, LOL


hibeam March 3, 2014 at 5:49 pm

In other news the Pentagon is testing a new type of soldier who does not mind having his pay and benefits cut. "They ain't too smart, but hell we don't intend to have many of em anyway" -explained a Pentagon Spokesman.


Mystick March 3, 2014 at 6:31 pm

That scientist in the picture sure doesn't look Chinese….


Ishbane March 3, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Grey goo incoming.


C-Low March 3, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Ah don't worry those chinese are just 19th 20th century throwbacks, using gov money to push the evil military industrial complex and their schools to produce science and math for the evil military complex.

We are much more enlightened here in the US with our food stamps, legal drugs, beer cheaper than water, and "freedom from work" for the adults. We are raising our enlightened children with 1. sex ed, 2. humanities aka anti morals anti-right-wrong, 3. man is killer of earth/nature/global warming propaganda for science, and then math ahh math we have common core were children learn math by drawing box stacks that take half a page.

Pitiful, sad, embarrassing, and infuriating all at once.


guest March 4, 2014 at 3:24 am

turn off Fox news.


guest March 4, 2014 at 11:29 am

I'm not sure what you have against the humanities. One can hardly call themselves educated without a cursory understanding of the Western canon… If only because it is the foundation of the cultural juggernaut that is the West.


Tom Billings March 5, 2014 at 3:32 pm

I do believe he was referring to the contents of *today's* humanities departments, where the canon of the cultures that produced industrial society (someone had to do it) is almost taboo, and its substitutes for K-12 are written by people like Bill Ayers.


Tiger March 3, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Let the Clone Army begin………


Hunter76 March 3, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Sounds like the future, doesn't it? A piece of material transforms itself down to the nano level into a useful object.

Or the Chinese propose this to prompt the West to advance the technology, at which time the Chinese can copy it.


Guest March 4, 2014 at 1:49 am

Take your head out of the sand, they’re clearly not just copycats anymore. They’re making their own breakthroughs now and to think otherwise is complacent.


Guest March 4, 2014 at 5:23 pm

When they can successfully build an indigenous fighter aircraft engine without copying/hacking/stealing/reverse engineering their way to it, wake me up.


Guest A March 5, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Might be too late to wake up then.


oblatt2 March 4, 2014 at 3:24 am

You always have to laugh at defense techs lack of technology knowledge. Apples liquid metals have nothing to do with the Chinese liquid metals used for actuators, neither have anything to do with 3D printing and neither has much to do with military applications.

But as science education and basic research rapidly decreases in the US such stories mixing up basic technologies and with a dash of magical thinking are the future.


rbi March 4, 2014 at 9:35 am

Seems like all these old science fiction movies are coming to reality.
Terminator reloaded folks
It has begun…


XYZ March 4, 2014 at 10:43 am

Uhm… "Chinese test self-printing robots"? Reads more like "Chinese test assembling spheres of liquid metal into larger spheres of liquid metal". Still got a LONG way to go to what the headline claims with what the technology does, from what I understand.


hibeam March 4, 2014 at 11:11 am

It is inevitable that we will eventually share this planet with machines that are smarter than we are. Where it goes from there is hard to say. There is nothing magical about our analog brains. Silicon/Quantum brains will surpass them.


Marshall March 4, 2014 at 11:22 am

This is might not be a great idea. Science Fiction has many examples of self replicating robots. I didn't like the ending of most of those stories.

But, like most ideas in good science fiction, probably inevitable!


Paul March 5, 2014 at 11:41 am

I always thought Asimov's Foundation/Robots ended quite well albeit after a long journey of several billions dead, fallen empire and near doomed humanity toeing the line towards an estimated 35000 years of space interregnum.


bulldurham48 March 4, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Is that where obama came from?


Yeast Infection March 6, 2014 at 9:38 am

So now we just get random headlines that don't appear to be substantiated by anything in the article? I'm not sure how making small lumps of metal stick together to make bigger lumps of metal equates to a "self printing robot". Less National Enquirer and more Defense Tech please.


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