CNES (the French National Center for Space Research) was responsible for the first spacecraft to orbit a comet, the Rosetta Project, and now Pascal Martinelli, who supervised the conception and manufacturing of that satellite, has helped a group of French students do their part to make a new aerospace project happen.
The EyeSat mission is planned to place a satellite to observe the Milky Way, and it’s part of the larger Janus Project. A few times every year, the CNES launches missions which include the best engineering students from France.
“It’s a practical tool to get students at engineering schools and universities more involved in space sciences,” says Alain Gaboriaud, the project leader at CNES.
In Rosetta, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) “comet chaser” project from back in 2004, the world saw the most detailed images of a comet ever taken. For the last ten years, the orbiter has floated through our solar system, across an asteroid belt and on into deep space. That collaboration with NASA saw it travel more than five times Earth’s distance from the Sun, and now the EyeSat Project is one of those collaborations with students and EAS.
In all, the EyeSat required nearly 400 3D printed parts throughout the 14 iterations of the prototyping process, and the CNES used Sculpteo’s 3D printing services to build those parts.
The project also made use of 3D printed parts for more than just the prototyping stage of the effort. The final version of the satellite included 3D printed components. The technology was used to print four mounting brackets and a sunvisor.
“3D printing is not necessarily the first manufacturing technique that comes to mind when you’re designing a satellite. Engineers are still lacking some experience with it and that’s one of the reasons why it’s not used as much as it should be to produce the final EYESAT satellite,” Martinelli says. “The other reason however is more down to earth. Polyamide even when not 3D printed can absorb 5% of its weight in water, which means water can get inside the material. While in space, any moisture would turn into condensation on the lenses of the camera resulting in degraded images. That’s why we still need to test 3D printed parts for this.”
“For the manufacturing of models it would have been impossible to plan this series of 12 units for the deadlines granted to this operation,” said Martinelli. “The project are difficult to fund, and even if 3D printing isn’t economically efficient in every case, in this particular case, it was the only way to meet our budget.”
This project, a collaboration between student engineers and CNES, certainly saw a huge boost thanks to 3D printing. Do you know about any other aerospace projects which use 3D printing? Let us know in the EyeSat Project forum thread on 3DPB.com.
You May Also Like
3DPOD Episode 39: Roboze Founder Alessio Lorusso and High-Temperature 3D Printing
Alessio Lorusso built his first 3D printer at 17 and went on to bootstrap his company Roboze. His enthusiasm and drive really shine through in this episode of the 3DPod....
Bioprinting Method Improves Efficiency in In Vitro Fertilization
Researchers at the University of Bari have developed new methods of 3D printing for more effective assisted reproduction interventions and procedures for the protection of endangered species. In vitro fertilization...
3D Printing and COVID-19: DreamLab Under Investigation Due to Customer Complaints
While many additive manufacturing operations may have appeared to be booming earlier in the spring, 2020 is turning out to be a bad year for DreamLab Industries. This is true...
Motorized, 3D Printed Shoes Could Make Virtual Reality Truly Immersive
Some prefer reading, others would rather binge-watch the latest Netflix show, and then there are the gamers. We often see 3D printing used in the gaming world, with classic board...
View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.