Little by little 3D printing is beginning to reach space. This time it was the company Thales Alenia Space which announces that 79 metal parts manufactured by 3D printing and no less than 350 polymer chemical propulsion tube supports, all manufactured in its facilities, have already been sent into space.
In case you don't know, tell you that Thales Alenia Space is a company specialized in the design and manufacture of communications satellites, hence the company knows very well at the moment the quantity of printed parts, since in 2015 the first antenna support manufactured by 3D printing was installed on the Turkmenalem satellite Monacosat, how many pieces already orbit the Earth.
Thales Alenia Space counts the total number of 3D printed parts they have already put into orbit.
As commented Florence Montredon, Head of Additive Manufacturing Technologies Development at Thales Alenia Space:
Our efforts revolve around the integration of several functions in the same piece, such as mechanical, thermal or even radio frequency. Currently the challenge lies both in the design process and in the production techniques themselves.
As a final detail, tell you that, as explained by the managers of the company specialized in the design and manufacture of communications satellites, the use of 3D printing is not something that is due to a fashion, but rather this technology represents a real benefit for all space products.
A clear example of the above is how, thanks to 3D printing, complex structures in a single piece can be designed and manufactured, something that until now was impossible using traditional production methods. Of course, all of this results in not just one more solid structure, but also much lighter, something that is vital in an industry where each gram costs a lot of money to take into space.