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While this might look like a postmodern sculpture, this weirdly organic design is actually a 3D-printed deployment mechanism for satellite solar panels. This prototype titanium version, by Thales Alenia Space, is called the Adel’Light, being a lightweight version of their existing Adele mechanism.
The 3D-printed version slashes the number of separate parts needed and reduces its mass by 80%. The spiral hinges in the foreground cannot be produced as a single part in any other way.
The device was on show this week during ESA’s Additive Manufacturing for Space Applications workshop at its ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. More than 350 experts from across Europe came together to discuss the potential of 3D printing to transform the space industry and begin preparing common standards for its use.