In a move to amplify its aerospace and additive manufacturing (AM) capabilities, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has acquired a Magic 800 Directed Energy Deposition (DED) machine from French metal 3D printing company AddUp. This acquisition will help strengthen India’s position as a newcomer in the global space sector.
ISRO has strong ambitions for space exploration and research, from launching an array of satellites like NavIC for navigation to pioneering missions like Mangalyaan, which made India the first Asian nation to reach Martian orbit. The Chandrayaan missions showcased the country’s lunar exploration ambitions, with Chandrayaan-1 confirming water on the Moon. The forthcoming Gaganyaan mission is set to position India among a small group of nations sending humans to space. Concurrently, ISRO’s plans include exploring Venus, advancing Mars exploration, developing reusable launch technologies, and creating specific launch solutions for small satellites.
Furthermore, the organization has implemented 3D printing among its ranks, including crafting intricate rocket engine components and designing satellite parts. As part of its lunar and other off-Earth missions, ISRO sees potential in constructing habitats through 3D printing, leveraging local resources, and reducing dependence on Earth-based materials. The recent acquisition of AddUp’s Magic 800 DED machine further underlines ISRO’s interest in integrating AM into its expansive space endeavors.
As the newest addition to its inventory, the Magic 800 DED machine is expected to catalyze the development of vital components for future space exploration missions.
Released in early 2023, AddUp’s Magic 800 stands tall as its fleet’s largest five-axis CNC-blown powder DED machine. It boasts a 2-kW laser, two exchangeable heads, and a vast build volume measuring 1800mm x 1000mm x 1000mm. These features allow it to handle even the toughest tasks. Furthermore, an essential quality of the Magic 800 is its enclosure inerted design. It involves filling the machine’s containment area with inert gas, ensuring safe working conditions with reactive powders by preventing unwanted chemical reactions. This feature is a critical requirement for producing high-quality aerospace components.
According to AddUp, this partnership with ISRO is more than just a business transaction. AddUp CEO Julien Marcilly expressed: “Access to space is a key part of our collaborative roadmap with ISRO, and AddUp will provide our full support so that ISRO can realize all benefits of our Directed Energy Deposition technology to develop and industrialize innovative space applications.”
As part of the acquisition process, the ISRO team visited AddUp’s factory in Saint-Laurent les Tours, France, for the machine’s commissioning. This visit happened around the same time as the state visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to France last July. Considering that ISRO is a government-owned space agency that operates under the Department of Space, which is directly overseen by the country’s Prime Minister, the simultaneity of these events is no surprise, and even coincided with the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the India-France Strategic Partnership—an ongoing defense, space, and economic cooperation.
Following the synchronized events of the ISRO team’s visit and Modi’s state tour, the strategic alliance between India and France has become quitcountry’sAs their relationship grows stronger because of worries about China’s power, there’s a growing discussion in France. Many in France say their country is ignoring concerns about democracy in India to get big defense deals. This view seems stronger considering India’s big spending on defense, most notably Modi’s €4 billion deal in 2015 for 36 Rafale fighter jets. France is now India’s second-biggest weapons supplier, and with their trade reaching €25 billion in 2022, their relationship is growing stronger. Their collaboration spans beyond defense and into space exploration, aviation, and energy. However, New Delhi’s choice not to criticize Russia’s actions in Ukraine makes their international relationship even more complex.
In light of such complex global relationships, space exploration is another area where nations strive for excellence. With countries worldwide pushing the boundaries of space research and exploration, ISRO’s decision to invest in 3D printing technology ensures they stay at the forefront. As other space agencies have come to realize, such a move is not merely about having the most advanced equipment but about what this equipment ensures, and that is the potential to develop innovative components, experiment with newer materials and designs, and create parts that can withstand the harsh environment of space.
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