Even More ESA Efforts on Space-Based 3D Printing Coming

By on March 31st, 2022 in news, printer

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Demonstrating 3D printed continuous carbon fiber co-extrusion [Source: Anisoprint]

The European Space Agency has significant interest in space-based 3D printing, now with yet another project launched.

ESA has performed a number of projects to develop various types of 3D printers to be operated in space, including:

If that wasn’t enough, there is more: ESA has now partnered with Anisoprint to develop a continuous carbon fiber 3D printer for use in the space environment.

Working with Anisoprint makes sense, because they are a European (Luxembourg) company that has a well-developed continuous carbon fiber 3D printer. Their equipment is able to produce extremely strong parts that make use of long carbon fibers. This is quite different from the chopped carbon fiber that’s commonly found in composite filaments; here Anisoprint literally has a spool of carbon fiber in their machines that is deposited into the print.

The resulting parts are so strong they can be substituted for much heavier metal parts in applications where the temperatures are not too high.

Lunar rover concept involving 3D printed continuous carbon fiber suspension [Source: Anisoprint]

Anisoprint announced they have been selected to participate in the “Startup Support Program” by the European Space Resources Innovation Centre. Anisoprint is one of five successful applicants to the program, where 28 didn’t make the cut.

What will Anisoprint do in this project? They explain:

“Anisoprint applied to participate in the ESRIC incubator to adjust composite fiber 3D printing for close-to-zero gravity conditions. During the SSP, the team will work on the development of equipment allowing 3D printing of tools, components, repair parts and structural elements made of composite materials in conditions of weightlessness and low gravity. Anisoprint’s project will support the development, extraction and use of space resources.”

Anisoprint CEO Fedor Antonov said:

“Space is a huge opportunity and an exciting challenge, and ultimately space exploration is the frontier of engineering progress. In-space manufacturing, in-orbit manufacturing were always my biggest endeavors. The Luxembourg government has designated spacetech as one of its top development priorities, and we are thrilled to have a chance to contribute to that under the ESRIC initiative.”

This is good news for Anisoprint, who now will enter the group of companies developing space-based equipment. This sector is likely to grow swiftly once SpaceX’s Starship project comes online in a couple of years, so Anisoprint is well positioned with this partnership.

As for ESA, I have to believe they could be the leader in space-based construction and manufacturing if they can leverage the results of all these 3D printing experiments.

Via Anisoprint

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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