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Chinese test self-printing robots

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Printing 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 quotesfrom 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.