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BLT aids in successful launch of SmartSat-2A satellite

Leveraging two BLT-S1000 systems to 3D print one satellite body structure and three array panel structures

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Early last month, the SmartSat-2A satellite, AKA Jiagao Science and Technology Innovation No. 1, soared into space atop a Smart Dragon3 launch vehicle, launched by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), from the vicinity of Yangjiang, Guangdong. The orbital placement of the SmartSat-2A satellite marked a milestone for Smart Satellite, showcasing their capability to independently develop satellites weighing 200kg or more, as well as design X-band SAR payloads.

The SmartSat-X1A features an integrated design approach for its synthetic aperture radar (SAR) payload. Its flat panel configuration aligns with future multi-satellite serial launches and demands lightweight and agile manufacturing of components. Here, metal 3D printing technology, provided by BLT, an industrial Chinese metal 3D printing company, emerged as a pivotal enabler – offering inherent advantages in producing large-scale, intricately structured components for aerospace applications. The technology’s ability to ensure both quality and performance while streamlining production processes aids in cost reduction and efficiency enhancement.

BLT leveraged two BLT-S1000 systems to 3D print one satellite body structure and three array panel structures. The panel structure measures 1300mm x 980mm x 20mm, while the satellite body structure measures 1300mm x 1126mm x 335mm – making it the largest 3D printed satellite structure currently in orbit in China. Both the satellite body structure and panel utilize AlSi10Mg material, which facilitates large-scale lattice-skin structures with a mere 0.5mm wall thickness and lattice filament diameter design. BLT team conducted thorough analyses of part characteristics and operating conditions – overcoming challenges of deformation of large-scale panel-type skin lattice components through meticulous process optimization.

BLT aids in successful launch of SmartSat-2A satellite - with two BLT-S1000 systems to 3D print a satellite body and array panel structures.
BLT’s BLT-S1000 system.

As the demand for high-performance aerospace components continues to soar, BLT’s metal additive manufacturing solutions have positioned it as a key player in the industry. The scalability and precision offered by its large-format multi-laser printing systems like the BLT-S1000 and BLT-1500 have enabled the production of complex parts with unmatched efficiency and accuracy. From satellite bodies to propulsion systems, metal additive manufacturing has not only accelerated the pace of aerospace innovation but has also contributed to cost reduction and enhanced sustainability.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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