Mar 22, 2017 | By Tess

Additive manufacturing promotion network Canada Makes has teamed up with Quebec-based FusiA Impression 3D Métal Inc. and communications and information company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) to 3D print a part that will be launched into space this year. Canada Makes provided much of the funding for the project through its Metal Additive Demonstration program, while MDA designed the part and FusiA took charge of 3D printing it.

3D printed spacecraft interface bracket

The 3D printed parts in question are spacecraft interface brackets that can be installed onto antennae and which are optimized for flight. The project, while significant in itself, highlights how 3D printing, as a technology, is disrupting the “economics of space.” Within the specific Canadian context, the project is part of an effort to promote and expand Canada’s additive manufacturing supply chain.

Joanna Boshouwers, Vice President and General Manager of MDA, said of the joint project: “We are accelerating our adoption of additive manufacturing for space. The FusiA built part shown will be tested structurally in order to qualify the rest of the batch to fly in space. The support MDA received by Canada Makes’ program has proved to be valuable, allowing us to explore more complex parts produced with this technique.”

As has become clear in recent years, 3D printing technologies have allowed aerospace companies to develop and manufacture satellite parts at a lower cost and in a quicker timeframe than was previously possible. So far, we’ve seen influential companies such as Boeing and Lockheed use the technology to make satellite parts. Recently, Poland also announced it would be using 3D printing to manufacture its first satellites.

As mentioned, the satellite parts made through the Canada Makes, FusiA, MDA partnership were funded through the NRC-IRAP Metal AM Demonstration Program. According to Canada Makes, this is the third round that it has partnered with NRC-IRAP to push forward 3D printing applications within the Canadian manufacturing industry.

The Metal Additive Manufacturing Demonstration Program itself was set up to bolster 3D printing awareness among Canadian businesses and to showcase the benefits of metal 3D printing. As part of the program, Canada Makes provides expert support to participating companies through its network of partners.

As for the 3D printed satellite parts, they are expected to be launched into space sometime this year, though there are no details on what satellite they will be built onto.

FusiA Impression 3D Métal Inc. is a specialist in metal 3D printing and has worked with clients from the aerospace, space, and defense industries. MDA, which was responsible for designing the 3D printed satellite parts, is a multinational communications and information company that offers operational solutions to various commercial and government groups.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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