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Canada Makes, FusiA and MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd partnered to build a part to be launched into to space later this year. Additive manufacturing projects like this highlight how the technology is rapidly changing the economics of space. Canada Makes helped with funding through its Metal Additive Demonstration program supported by NRC-IRAP, MDA designed the part and FusiA built it.

“We are accelerating our adoption of additive manufacturing for space,” says Joanna Boshouwers, MDA’s Vice President and General Manager. “The FusiA built part shown will be tested structurally in order to qualify the rest of the batch to fly in space. The support MDA received by Canada Makes’ program has proved to be valuable, allowing us to explore more complex parts produced with this technique.”

“Canada Makes primary goal is to reinforce Canada’s additive manufacturing supply chain and this project is a big step in that direction,” said Frank Defalco, Manager Canada Makes. “This is the third round we have partnered with NRC-IRAP on the Metal AM Demonstration Program, and we are very pleased that many others projects are also helping companies learn how to use additive manufacturing to innovate.”

The parts are spacecraft interface brackets for an antenna and been optimised for a flight project.

Various satellite manufacturers are using additive manufacturing to reduce the cost and time required to build spacecraft parts. Boeing recently announced they will begin incorporating the technology, another recent announcement from Poland that they will use 3D printing to develop the country’s first satellites.

3D printing offers new possibilities for manufacturers of satellites. The building of parts with additive manufacturing allows new capabilities not available using conventional manufacturing, although it can be expensive and difficult so it is crucial to use the technology correctly where it offers true benefits.

The Metal Additive Manufacturing Demonstration Program is delivered by Canada Makes through funding by NRC-IRAP. The program is designed to help Canadian industries increase awareness and assist in understanding the advantages of the metal additive manufacturing (AM) technology. Canada Makes works with a group of AM experts who provide participating companies guidance of the advantages and business opportunities in terms of cost savings and efficiencies of AM.

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