Space missions are becoming more high-production affair as organizations like NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) incorporated 3D printed parts such as rover wheels in their spaceflights. The latest innovation in this regard is ESA 3D printing electromagnetic coils in pure copper.
This marks a significant change in how future space missions will be as versatile tools can be designed using 3D printed electromagnetic coils. ESA’s General Support Technology Programme (GSTP) made this breakthrough possible after 2000 research contracts. GSTP started as a collaboration between academia and European industry 30 years ago to develop technologies for space exploration.
Electromagnetic coils play a crucial role in electric motors, magnetic bearings and magnetorquers used in satellite control in space missions. Now, ESA has used laser powder bed fusion 3D printing supplied by German company Zarm Technik to create these sophisticated 3D printed electromagnetic coils.
Through its laser powder bed fusion technology, manufacturing services provider Zarm Technik could create intricate designs and efficient production methods that enhanced the operation of space hardware. So far the company has supplied AM parts for many space missions and none of them has failed during testing or in orbital separation.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of ESA’s GSTP program which makes this 3D printed electromagnetic coil development even more vital for its future. Through such advancements, the ESA showcases its capabilities of navigating the challenges of future space missions.
The copper 3D printing of the electromagnetic coils is highly relevant for the aerospace industry as it enhances the efficiency and production of space missions hardware, ultimately reducing costs and weight of spacecrafts. This will improve the launch efficiency of spacecrafts and make way for economical fuel use.
This reduction in costs is crucial in developing future space missions as government space funding has decreased all over the world in the last 25 years which in turn has resulted in the move towards adopting 3D printing technology to speed up the space sector manufacturing.
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