3D printing for satellite technology

3D printing for satellite technology

© Fraunhofer EMI
Numerical modal analysis of the optical bench.
© Fraunhofer EMI
CAD model of the redesigned optical bench.

Satellite-based services such as weather forecasts, navigation, or communication applications influence our daily lives. To advance the development of such services even faster than before, utilizing so-called nanosatellites, which usually have the size of a shoebox, has enormous potential. If we want to realize better, more flexible and cost efficient nanosatellites in a shorter development time, a paradigm change is needed in terms of the construction and production of current satellite systems. 3D printing (additive manufacturing), with its enormous freedom of design, allows the realization of highly individualized and compact design solutions for nanosatellites.

At Fraunhofer EMI, design methods and concepts are employed and developed in order to implement application-specific nanosatellite structures. In this context, the automation of the design process with the integration of modern structural optimization algorithms guarantees a quick design adaption, the integration of functions in components, and the integral design to reduce the number of individual components. With the additive manufacturing technology of direct metal laser sintering, components can be produced in a resource efficient way from a broad range of different alloys including aluminum or titanium. At Fraunhofer EMI, we are constantly working on establishing additive manufacturing as a bridge between the real and digital worlds even in spacecraft technology.

© Fraunhofer EMI
Additively manufactured optical bench made of aluminum with integrated optical payload (infrared detector, filter panel and lens).