Politecnico offers first European 3D printing course for space

Training concludes with student challenge on additive technologies

The first European course in Additive Manufacturing for space applications has just finished at the Politecnico di Milano. The training course, Additive Manufacturing for space and aerospace applications, was offered to Laurea Magistrale (equivalent to Master of Science) and PhD students by Dr. Tommaso Ghidini. Dr. Ghidini is currently Head of the Structures, Mechanisms and Materials Division at the European Space Agency (ESA), and he has collaborated for some years with our Department of Mechanical Engineering, especially with professor Bianca M. Colosimo, either in the area of research and in that of education.

“Additive Manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, has developed strongly over the past number of years,” said Ghidini, “and the course offered by the Politecnico has been designed with the aim of exploring the challenges and requirements that the technology places on the space industry, to attract a new generation of engineers into this sector”.

At the end of the course, the students took part in a “design for Additive” challenge for a space component that had already been designed for 3D printing by Airbus and Catec (Centre for Advanced Aerospace Technologies) in Spain, who then helped to assess the students’ projects. The component, a support bracket for the payload of the European launcher Vega, was redesigned with the aim of reducing its mass to increase performance, while at the same time taking into account the solution’s printability. The group that won the competition were able to produce a result that reduced the mass by 25% compared to the solution attained using traditional technologies.

The students were enthusiastic in their response to the competition, viewing it as an opportunity to test their acquired knowledge in the field and to meet a requirement from the world of industry. They were entrusted with a real challenge, which required them to take account of the feasibility, costs and final performance of a product made by additive manufacturing.