Researchers develop 3D-printed parts for spacecrafts

11.10.2019 9:15

Finnish research group's project aims for spacecraft that are lighter and faster to manufacture. Their research focuses on the development of 3D-printed plastic components suitable for use in space.

Photo: Antti Kestilä

Photo: Antti Kestilä

Manufactured using a 3D printer, the plastic components will help make spacecraft lighter.  Printing complex components will also cut down on the time required for manufacturing.

"As a result, we get spacecraft that are not only more lightweight but also cheaper and faster to produce", explains researcher and project leader Antti Kestilä from the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Manufacture of more complex components made possible by new technology

The technology the group has developed allows to produce more complex parts than traditional methods. Examples of such components include protective cases for computers, sensors embedded in a craft's mechanical structure, antennae, solar panels, or protective layers for space environments.

As the parts also have heat and electricity-conducting properties, they can provide protection from harmful electromagnetic disturbances and even contain built-in electric circuits.

The HighPEEK project was launched in September and will run for two years. The components produced at the end of the project will be suitable for use in space. This will be followed by the manufacture of plastic parts for a real spacecraft.

The Finnish Meteorological Institute heads a project consortium that also includes ADDLab and the School of Electrical Engineering from Aalto University, Carbodeon Oy, the University of Helsinki Department of Chemistry, and Maker3D Oy. This activity is performed in the frame of the European Space Agency ESA ARTES project under ESA contract number 4000127834/19/UK/AB.

Further information:

Antti Kestilä, researcher, Finnish Meteorological Institute, tel. +358 44 238 3164,

Ugo Lafont, responsible technical officer, ESA,

Paul Greenway, technical responsible, ESA,