Technological advancements in the recent decade have accelerated the developments of the local space sector. Through collaborations, spacetech companies can address economic challenges by synergising their technology priorities with that of other tech companies in Singapore.
Together with their satellite service provider, Qosmosys – an international private company headquartered in Singapore, worked with NuSpace to collaborate with Creatz3D in preparation for a milestone launch of the Zeus-1 satellite. This collaborative project contributed to the first locally 3D-printed component to be launched into space.
“With it being the first collaboration for a demanding performance, we find Creatz3D people responsive and diligent.”
– Francois Dubrulle, Founder & CEO at Qosmosys
The Space Mission:
Godspeed is a project by Qosmosys initiated in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the launch of the Pioneer-10 probe. In conjunction with this commemorative milestone, a 3D-printed satellite test container was fitted into the Zeus-1 satellite holder to secure a total of fifty uniquely-designed, gold-anodized artworks as the satellite orbits.
Zeus-1 was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on 18 December 2022 on board SpaceX rideshare.
Mass is a pertinent factor in the space industry, with every gram count being an increment of cost to send heavier objects into space.
Prior to 3D printing, the usual go-to method would be CNC / metal sheet forming an aluminum case for the required satellite test container, which consists of complicated processes such as folding and sawing of produced parts, thus making design iterations mundane and cumbersome. As a result, the process is cost-ineffective.
Closing the Gap with Expert Synergies
With accumulated experiences from working with over 150 commercial companies and research facilities since its establishment in 2012, Creatz3D provides professional industrial-grade 3D printers and solutions for highly demanding manufacturing applications.
Harnessing the expertise in fostering partnerships with the applications of 3D printing for industrial mitigations, the collaboration between Qosmosys and Creatz3D was agreed upon for the fabrication of the required satellite test container.
This is a manufacturing project involving strict material requirements for the production of the required satellite component – an important set-up for the milestone space launch.
Space-Ready Material for Intended Application
Outgassing is a challenge for equipment used in space. This occurs when changes in surrounding temperature and/or pressure causes the equipment to release a gas that is dissolved or trapped within the material, rendering the space equipment inoperable.
With an abundant selection of thermoplastics within their portfolio, Creatz3D advised on the Stratasys ANTERO 800NA as the selected material, attributing to its superior chemical resistance and ultra-low outgassing properties. The latter is in this case, pertinent in ensuring the operability of the satellite and its required test container, with anticipations of a drastic drop in external temperature from as high as 40⁰C to as low as -14⁰C upon the launch of Zeus-1.
Perfect Fit on Point
A snug fit of the 3D-printed satellite test container was required for it to be housed within the Zeus-1 satellite holder.
Through the lens of design and functionality, Creatz3D assessed the computer-aided (CAD) file given by NuSpace to tweak the wall thickness from what was suggested, so as to achieve the right dimensions for the final output of the required part. On top of which, astute consideration for the print orientation of the part was needed to ensure that the final output remains resistant to changes in environmental conditions.
A short segment of the part was first printed for a test fit with NuSpace, prior proceeding with the print parameters agreed upon. The final output was a 3D-printed satellite test container which fitted like hand into glove.
Part Result Comparison
According to statistics by NASA, current cost of launching per pound of payload is USD10,000. The final mass of the 3D-printed output measured 362g, which is a significant reduction – of at least 50% – from the estimated mass of 800g for a part of the same dimensions made of Aluminum 6061 material, should the conventional method of manufacturing be used.
“The proposed original design was a sheet material, which could cost up to $4,000 to $5,000 and requiring a long lead time of at least three weeks for a machine manufactured component to reach us, whereas 3D-printed parts took only 2 to 3 days,” said Ng Zhen Ning, CEO & Co-Founder of NuSpace.
With additive manufacturing identified as an essential enabler of Singapore’s standing, Creatz3D’s involvement in this collaboration project contributes a step closer towards the nation’s goal as a regional hub for advanced manufacturing technologies, and attests to the potential of unlocking further usage possibilities for the 3D printing and spacetech industries in Singapore.