3D printed satellite casing works successfully in space   

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Aluminium producer Rusal has announced the successful operation of a 3D-printed casing installed onto the Yarilo satellite launched into space in 2020.

The casing, 3D printed in the Institute of Light Materials and Technologies (ILM&T) from a new aluminium powder alloy, is an important part of the satellite, preventing overheating of the main equipment and ensuring its stable operation. The thermoregulatory casing of the gamma-ray detector was developed at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology. The Yarilo project’s mission is to explore the sun and weather in space.

3D printed satellite casing based on new aluminium powder

The new RS-333 aluminium powder alloy was developed by specialists of the Rusal Institute of Light Materials and Technologies. The alloy countered the issue of low technological efficiency when printing with the use of aluminium alloys ligated by magnesium and silicon. These alloys, meanwhile, have good thermal conductivity and high solidity. As shown by ground tests, and then proved by operation in space, the new net structure printed with a new high-heat-conducting alloy through 3D printing allowed a 20 % weight reduction with a 25 % increase in heat flow, which is the main indicator of the effectiveness of parts involved in thermal regulation.

Further applications targeted in numerous high-tech industries

“Testing additive technologies in space is a unique opportunity to showcase the prospects and reliability of using aluminium alloys and 3D printing in creating such an important node, on which the stable functioning of the entire unit depends. We are confident that this experience will be useful not only for expanding the implementation of 3D-printed parts in scientific research, but also for practical application in numerous high-tech industries such as automotive, computer manufacturing, home appliances, and mechanical engineering,” said Victor Mann, chief technician at Rusal.

The ILM&T was founded by Rusal in 2017. The primary objective of the Institute is to develop and launch new varieties of aluminium-based products and materials into the market.

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