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China successfully launches Pujiang-1 satellite featuring 3D printed parts into space

Date:2016-01-14 Hits:307
China successfully launches Pujiang-1 satellite featuring 3D printed parts into space

Over the past year or so, we’ve seen that the Chinese government is very enthusiastically adopting high quality 3D printing in a variety of its branches. In January, we saw how their warships are taking 3d printers out on missions to manufacture replacement parts and just a few weeks ago the army branch has started doing the same. However China is also ambitious in regards to aerospace, so it is hardly surprising that they have relied on the same high quality metal 3D printing principles during the development of a recent satellite. Called the Pujiang-1, it is the Chinese first satellite to feature 3D printed parts and has just been successfully launched.

Developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, its designers chose to reduce costs and manufacturing time by creating the satellite’s titanium antenna holder with 3D printing. These parts were completed over a period of three days, while they usually take up to four months to create. And despite this short production time, the performance of the parts are said to be completely similar to those of traditionally manufactured parts.
The problem with those kinds of satellite programs in China is that they usually take exceptionally long to develop – establishing a dedicated program, creating and testing the models and prototypes quickly takes years. However, 3D printing technology is perfect for not only drastically reducing the costs involved, but also for greatly speeding up the program itself. If successful, the same principles will likely be applied to further satellite programs in China.