Thanks to a Group Effort, 3D Printed Satellite Bracket Will Soon Go to Space

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3D printing technology has really changed the face of manufacturing for many applications and sectors, including outer space. Canada’s premier additive manufacturing network, Canada Makes, recently teamed up with 3D metal printing company FusiA Impression 3D Metal Inc. and global communications and information company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) to build a part together that will soon be sent up into space. The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is no stranger to 3D printing for space, and its Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) supports Canada Makes’ Metal Additive Manufacturing Demonstration Program, which is being used to help fund the joint endeavor.

“Canada Makes primary goal is to reinforce Canada’s additive manufacturing supply chain and this project is a big step in that direction. This is the third round we have partnered with NRC-IRAP on the Metal Demonstration Program, and we are very pleased that many others’ projects are also helping companies learn how to use additive manufacturing to innovate,” said Frank Defalco, Manager, Canada Makes.

Canada Makes is made up of public, private, nonprofit, and academic entities that are focused on promoting the development and overall adoption of additive manufacturing in the country. Its Metal Additive Manufacturing Demonstration Program was designed to assist Canadian industries in raising awareness and getting a more clear idea of the metal additive manufacturing technology. A group of AM experts works with Canada Makes, to offer participating groups helpful tips and business opportunities.

Spacecraft Interface Bracket for an antenna

MDA designed the space-bound part, a spacecraft interface antenna bracket optimized for flight, and FusiA manufactured it. Now that the joint project is complete, MDA is ramping up its focus on 3D printing for missions to the stars, which should help the company as it works to develop increasingly complex components.

Joanna Boshouwers, MDA’s Vice President and General Manager, said, “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.”

FusiA, based in Quebec, specializes in metal additive manufacturing of precision metal parts for the aerospace, defense, and space industries. The company became a Canada Makes partner in August 2016, and is a member of its Additive Manufacturing Advisory Board (AMAB).

Satellite manufacturer Space Systems Loral kept costs and part mass down by using additive manufacturing to design the JCSAT-110A antenna tower, Poland’s first commercial satellite was created with a 3D printed housing, and Boeing recently started to implement additive manufacturing into satellite production. Additive manufacturing these kinds of satellite parts, rather than using traditional manufacturing methods, opens up many new possibilities that aren’t possible with the conventional methods. Discuss in the Canada Makes forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source: Canada Makes]

 

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