With the 3D printer, astronauts will soon begin experimenting with additive manufacturing technology in microgravity, the US space agency said in a statement.

Commander Barry Wilmore installed the printer, about the size of a small microwave oven, in the Microgravity Science Glovebox on board ISS.

The 3D printer will help astronauts manufacture their own components and tools on the ISS itself. The printer, developed by California-based space start-up Made in Space, was sent to the space station as part of SpaceX's fourth cargo resupply mission in September.

"3D printing may allow us to email hardware to space instead of launching it," said Niki Werkheiser, 3D printing project manager at NASA.

Meanwhile, Wilmore's fellow crew members - flight engineers Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova - worked on routine maintenance tasks and cargo transfers in the station's Russian segment on Monday.

They also paired up for a cardiovascular exam on an exercise bike, sampled the station's atmosphere and tested television downlink signals.