Thales Alenia

Europe’s very first 3D printer in space.

Created: 2018-11-07

Updated: 2022-09-18

Company - Thales Alenia

Founded
Country
2002
Italy
Website
Thales Alenia
Thales Alenia

Service

Classification
In-Space Transportation
Category
In-Space Manufacturing
Space Tug
On-Orbit Servicing
Fields
Additive Manufacturing (3D printing)
Status
2) Demonstrated
First launch
2015

POP3D Portable On-Board Printer is a small 3D printer that requires very limited power and crew involvement to operate.
Funded by the Italian space agency ASI, the POP3D (Portable On-Board Printer) for 3D printing reached orbit in 2015. The compact, cube-shaped printer measures 25 cm per side and weighs 5.5 kg in Earth gravity. It prints in biodegradable and harmless PLA plastic, using a heat-based process called ‘fused filament fabrication’. POP3D typically takes about half an hour to produce a single plastic part, which was subsequently returned to the ground for detailed testing, including comparison to an otherwise identical part printed on the ground. The Italian Institute of Technology assisted with post-flight examinations.

Thales Alenia Space, joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%) has signed a contract with European Space Agency (ESA), worth € 4,5 Million, for the study of Cis-Lunar Transfer Vehicle (CLTV), a transportation logistic space vehicle to be used for a variety of missions: from the logistic resupply of Lunar Gateway pressurized modules, to the transportation of space infrastructure in low Earth orbit, and the potential use in future missions in support of the European Large Logistic Lander (EL3)..

Thales Alenia Space is developing Start, a fleet of in-orbit service vehicles. A fleet of service satellites will intervene in orbit to capture debris, de-orbit end-of-life satellites and also repair or refuel. The first demonstration should take place in 2026.

Sources


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