Recent advancements in space technology have seen the creation of electromagnetic coils through 3D printing in pure copper
These innovations allow for the precise production of magnetic field shapes essential for space missions. This development is a result of one of the numerous research contracts supported by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) General Support Technology Programme (GSTP).
A selection of copper coils created by additive manufacturing techniques. These benchmark geometries were produced by L-PBF with green laser source. The activity successfully demonstrated how the electrical conductivity of pure copper can now be combined with the design freedom of additive manufacturing – both are important factors in the performance of electromagnetic coils – and enable the production of coils with complex shapes to generate dedicated magnetic field shapes. Credit: ESA
Electromagnetic coils, a product of these research endeavors, play a critical role in electric motors, magnetic bearings, and magnetorquers used for satellite attitude control. A project led by Zarm Technik in Germany, under the GSTP, has successfully developed an end-to-end process for producing these coils using laser powder bed fusion 3D printing technology.
The GSTP has been instrumental in working with European industry and academia over the past three decades, fostering the development of over 2,000 research contracts. These efforts have been crucial in refining technologies for both spaceflight and commercial use.