Student 3D printed satellite set for NASA launch

Indian 3D printer manufacturer 3Ding, and students at the Hindustan Institute of Technology and Sciences, have 3D printed a cube satellite set for launch on a NASA Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility at Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

Known as Jai Hind 1-S, The cube was crafted as a submission for Cubes in Space, a free, global competition for students ages 11-18, to design and propose experiments to be launched into space on a NASA sounding rocket and zero-pressure scientific balloon. 

Weighing in at 33.3 grams, the Jai Hind 1-S is one of the lightest satellites in the world.

The team behind Jai Hind 1-S. Photo via 3Ding
The team behind Jai Hind 1-S. Photo via 3Ding

3D printed satellite cube

Founded in 2013 by Surendranath Reddy, 3Ding is a major provider of 3D printers in India, with aims to expand and improve the use of 3D printing technology. This latest project with  Hindustan Institute of Technology marks the reseller’s second time in the Cubes in Spaces competition, and it plans to make sure its new satellite remains in orbit longer than the previous model.

The Jai Hind 1-S satellite is designed to measure humidity, pressure and temperatures and is capable of lasting a full 24 hours in space, in comparison to its predecessor, which only lasted 12 minutes. The project will allow for NASA to try out new ideas for atmospheric testing, and may even lead to further use of 3D printed space equipment at NASA. It was 3D printed using nylon with a FabX 3D printer in a total printing time of 5-6 hours.

“Since Nylon is lightweight and has high heat and abrasion resistance, it aligned with our goal of making the lightest satellite possible,” said Hari Krishnan, Project Lead. “Our application required small size production of Nylon, so no conventional methods made sense and hence we decided to try 3D Printing. The 3Ding team provided valuable design suggestions which helped us in designing an effective model. Since 3D Printing is quicker and cheaper with respect to our application, we were able to try 2 -3 design iterations before arriving at the final design.”

The Jai Hind 1-S. Photo via 3Ding
The Jai Hind 1-S. Photo via 3Ding

The 3D printed future of satellites.

Due to design flexibility, 3D printing is offering manufacturers bot big and small the opportunity to save crucial weight and money on satellite production. Earlier this year  SSL launched its 3D printed satellite, the Telstar 19 VANTAGE to provide communication services for Canada, South America, and the Caribbean.

Last year, Boeing also announced plans to 3D print satellites in order to produce them at a cheaper and faster rate. Similarly, Made In Space has created the Archinaut, a NASA funded satellite device capable of 3D printing and assembling large structures while in orbit.

“We can’t wait for the day when we will get our Jai Hind in our hands,” said Harikrishnan, “We hope to find data like temperature, UV density and vapour pressure, among other things, at various points of the satellite’s upward journey. This will help in research and better understanding of the environment in outer space.”

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Featured image shows the Jai Hind 1-S satellite.