While, it must sound like the stuff of sci-fi movies having 3D printing satellites in outer space, however, the truth is that the greatest players of the industry of aerospace are precisely heading there.
It is not just an amazing cool publicity stunt, but 3D printing can help in saving the money of the companies when releasing satellites into space by manufacturing parts of them there.
In an interview at the Farnborough air show on Monday, Andy Anderson, deputy chief technology officer at Airbus, enlightened CNBC:
“If you think of challenges in getting a satellite into orbit, if you think of major antennas, the fold out antennas we have, the ability to print something in space and deploy it from space is really interesting.”
Powdered materials are employed by 3D printing which get through a machine and get ‘printed’ in order to turn into an object. As Anderson told, it’s much easier to transfer a bag of powder to space as compared to an entire satellite.
The aerospace industry’s inclination towards 3D printing in a number of diverse areas is revealed by Anderson’s comments.
Using that process, a completely 3D printed drone in addition to a component of an aeroplane had been made and were displayed by Airbus lately.
The first ever manufacturing facility in space on the International Space Station has been installed in April by a company known as ‘Made In Space’. It uses 3D printing explicitly designed for the zero-gravity conditions in space. 3D printing of satellite components is also being checked by the European Space Agency.
Although the technology is available but the ability to print complex structures in a cost-efficient way in space still needs to be proved as per Anderson. As he explained to CNBC:
“The fact we can print in space has been proved, it’s more how do we design structures and what is the process of then printing them and testing them to see how they are done in space to make sure they work. It’s still a long way off, but certainly the journey has started.”