Markforged and Sidus Space join forces to build 3D printed LizzieSat satellite

3D printer manufacturer Markforged has unveiled a YouTube video that showcases the “work in progress” 3D printed LizzieSat satellite. This satellite is being created in partnership with aerospace firm Sidus Space.

Sidus Space states that the satellite must meet the rigorous certification standards in aerospace engineering while being limited to 100 kg maximum weight. Tony Boschi is a former NASA Engineer and Lead Design Checker who has led the project to tackle this complex engineering feat. Boschi said, “You’ve got batteries, computers, all the components that make the satellite operate that take up significant weight – the more weight I can remove from the rest of the structure, the more payload we can put in.”

Sidus Space utilized Markforged’s flame-retardant Onyx FRA material to produce components with metal-like strength, while also reducing weight and production time. Sidus Space claims that the 3D-printed prototypes made with Onyx FRA on its flight testing platform remained functional and intact even after a full year outside of the International Space Station.

Moreover, these partially 3-D printed LizzieSats are capable to hosting customer sensors and technology. It also has the capability to collect valuable data in various industries including aviation, maritime weather, space service, earth intelligence and observations, financial technology, Internet of Things, and more. Additionally, Sidus Space’s first 3D printed satellite is expected to launch this year on the SpaceX Transporter-9.

LizzieSat Constellation: 3D printed components transform geospatial intelligence

The LizzieSat multi-purpose constellation is created to cater to the specific needs of both commercial and government demands in today’s data-driven, cloud-based, and interconnected world. The platform aims to capitalize on the move from low-frequency and static satellite imaging to real-time, geospatial information that is more readily available.

LizzieSat gains from faster and more efficient satellite part fabrication by incorporating 3D-printed components. Markforged 3D-printers, renowned for their high accuracy and reliability in space applications, are used to produce these components. This technique not only speeds up manufacturing but also reduces costs and allows for more customized and flexible designs. LizzieSat is designed to work with multiple launch vehicles. It can also be launched from many different launch sites.

“Markforged 3D printers initially played an important role in our successful External Flight Test Platform (EFTP) mission, an on-orbit external experimental facility that was hosted on the NanoRacks International Space Station External Platform (NREP),” said Carol Craig, Sidus Space Founder, and CEO. “Building on the success of our EFTP program, we have continued to leverage Markforged solutions in the development of LizzieSat.”

LizzieSat early prototype. Image via Sidus Space.
LizzieSat prototype. Image via Sidus Space.

Sidus Space relies on Markforged 3D printers for reliable, cost-effective solutions

“Markforged has been an incredible partner to us over the years,” added Craig. “We are honored to be highlighted in one of their videos, as it speaks to our commitment to providing innovative, reliable, and cost-effective solutions to our customers.”

Markforged 3D Printers have been used by Sidus Space to quickly produce parts for various programs. This has allowed the company to meet its customer’s needs in a cost-effective and timely manner.

According to the company, when the impeller on the machine that produces Sidus’ custom screws broke, it would take weeks to months to get a replacement part. Boschi, however, was able 3D-print an exact replica of the original part on a Markforged X7 within less than forty minutes with Markforged’s help. The design is still in use after a year. This is unlike the OEM part that had to be ordered every 3 to 6 months.

Former NASA engineer, and Lead Design Checker Tony Boschi. Image via Sidus Space.
Tony Boschi is a former NASA engineer who was a Lead Design Checker. Image via Sidus Space.

Satellite manufacturing: 3D Printing is the new game changer

Sciperio, a Florida-based engineering firm affiliated with microdispensing specialists nScrypt, used the nScrypt Factory In A Tool (FiT), to 3D print CubeSats. The project was part of SBIR Phase II, which aimed at manufacturing and assembling 6U CubeSats of a high level of sophistication. Ken Church, CEO of both nScrypt and Sciperio said, “nScrypt’s FiT provides the ability to rapidly fabricate a small satellite to respond to an immediate need. For example, the Space Force will be able to react rapidly to meet new threats by compressing the time from design to orbit.”

Airbus has contracted 3D Systems to 3D-print parts for the satellite OneSat. OneSat has a unique feature in that it can be reconfigured while in orbit. This allows it to change its coverage area and frequency on the fly, unlike traditional satellites which are built for specific missions. 3D Systems used its DMP Factory 500 platform to produce parts of the satellite’s antenna arrays in a way that could enhance the performance after being selected to help build the device.

What is the Meaning of the 3D printing: the future What does the next decade hold?

What? engineering challenges What challenges will the sector of additive manufacturing face in the next decade?

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LizzieSat’s early prototype is shown in the image. Image via Sidus Space.

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