Jun 28, 2017

Is 3D Printing the Future of Satellite Manufacturing?

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, satellites

Thales Alenia Space has seen massive savings in time and cost for the manufacturing of its products thanks to 3D printing, said Florent Lebrun, who heads space antenna development at the company. With this new manufacturing process, not only can Thales cut production lead time for certain components from months to weeks, it can save up to 50 percent on expenditure per part, he said.

Thales began experimenting with 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, in 2013, when it produced its first few demonstrator products. In 2015, it implemented a 3D-printed part for the first time on a telecommunications satellite — an antenna horn mounting strut for TurkmenAlem52E/MonacoSat. The company also produced eight titanium antenna fittings for Arabsat 6B that year, Lebrun said.

Now, two years later, after the launch of SGDC 1, Telkom 3S and Koreasat 7, Thales has orbited around 80 3D-printed parts, with more than 120 additional parts produced this year for future applications.

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