Home Tech Updates Fleet Space, Konica Minolta Partner for 3D Printer Offering

Fleet Space, Konica Minolta Partner for 3D Printer Offering

by Helen J. Wolf
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Fleet Space has partnered with Konica Minolta to implement 3D Systems 3D printers to support the commercial small satellite manufacturer’s offerings.

Industries back to Australia. The 3D printer aims to increase Fleet Space’s production of small satellites for low Earth orbit to link billions of devices. In doing so, the company plans to expand aerospace, strategic, and mineral exploration production.

The company is a leader in manufacturing in the aerospace, strategic, and mineral exploration sectors.

With production in Australia co-funded by the South Australian government, Fleet Space focuses on using state-of-the-art edge communications and space technologies to create innovative solutions.

Fleet Space, Konica Minolta Partner for 3D Printer Offering

Included in the design of Fleet Space’s small satellites is the world’s first 3D-printed, all-metal patch antenna, offering ten times more throughput per kilogram of spacecraft.

Although Fleet Space has outsourced the 3D printing of these antennas to an offshore provider, running operations in Australia offers significant benefits for increasing production.

“Fleet Space is on a mission to unlock the power of global connectivity to drive real change for our critical industries,” said Fleet Space CEO and Co-Founder Flavia Tata Nardini.

“In this way, we make the extraction of minerals in the energy transition faster, more sustainable, and cheaper.

“This is not possible without the very best technology partners. We are delighted to partner with Konica Minolta to deliver a new constellation of fully 3D printed satellites to scale to the highest technical specifications.”

As part of Fleet Space’s contract, it is expected to dramatically expand its operations in 2022 and 2023. The partnership with Konica Minolta arose due to the need for a more efficient way to 3D print these antennas at scale.

“Fleet Space is one of Australia’s most innovative companies, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible,” said Matthew Hunter, Konica Minolta’s national manager of emerging technology.

“However, this level of innovation often comes with high costs. Fleet Space leverages the efficiency that can be found by deploying a smart, in-house 3D printing solution.

“Konica Minolta contacted Fleet Space to initiate a discussion and start a proof of concept to prove that the 3D Systems DMP350 Flex metal 3D printing solution could deliver the results Fleet Space needed.”

From here, Konica Minolta and 3D Systems teamed up with Fleet Space to develop a construction strategy.

The first step was to prove that the DMP350 could print the quality of aluminum parts and the quantity of Fleet Space needed to meet demand.

For Fleet Space, this process was crucial in using the metal printer DMP350.

“This is a highly technical environment with precise specifications,” notes Hunter.

“Konica Minolta proved that 3D Systems’ metal printers have industry-leading technology that allows users to 3D print with aluminum in an accurate, iterative, and scalable method.

“This made Fleet Space more productive and cost-effective for its volume production offices and provided continuous capacity for key research and development, keeping the organization at the forefront.

“Konica Minolta and 3D Systems’ consultative approach means Fleet Space can go straight into volume production as soon as the device arrives.”

Fleet Space will initially use the 3D printer to scale up production of the metal antennas. Still, the benefits offered by this new device will also make it more innovative, and the company can use it to develop prototypes and new parts During antenna manufacturing downtime.

“One of the key criteria for Fleet Space was that the 3D printer could provide a repeatable process to avoid any variation between parts,” said Tim Naylor, 3D Systems SEANZ industrial solutions group leader.

“Our printer has a closed-loop architecture, which ensures an accurate and repeatable process.

“The machine also has the lowest oxygen content on the market, delivering a pure part with no flaws, which is very important for aerospace applications.”

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