Sunil C. Joshi

Sunil C. Joshi

Nanyang Technological University

Title: Changing Paradigm in Satellite Design, Development and Assembly with 3D Printing


Sunil C. Joshi obtained his M.Tech. Degree in Aeronautical Engineering with aircraft structures specialization. He received his Ph.D. degree from Monash University (Australia). Prior to that, he worked as a Scientist at National Aerospace laboratories, Bangalore, India, from 1988 to 1994. He has been an academic staff in School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering since 2000, presently as part of Aerospace Engineering cluster. His expertise lies in the domain of Aerospace Materials and Structures, and his teaching includes courses such as, Advanced Materials Engineering, and Structures and Materials. He has been the chairperson of the accreditation committee that works towards the accreditation of the BEng (AE) programme. He was the member of XSAT, Singapore’s first in-house designed and developed micro-satellite, team where he served as the team leader for thermal controls sub-system. Currently, his work involves nanosats and their thermal and mechanical design and behaviour.


3D printing has evolved with time into a matured process for being able to manufacture functional parts and structures gaining widespread attention in aerospace industry. It has started changing the satellite design philosophy. Designs can now be customized to ease assembly, optimize the space and reduce the overall weight. A design model of a plastic CubeSat structure fabricated employing Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) process is presented. The CubeSat was designed to make assembly easier, possibly by hand, with minimum fasteners. This design ensured that there were no overhanging parts thereby eliminating use of any support material during printing, and it required no surface finishing. Closing or solar panels can be attached to this CubeSat frame without any screws. Essentially this design was easy-to-assemble using only 8 thumb screws in total. Prototypes of the designed CubeSat were printed in ABS to validate the tolerances. The entire sub-systems and payload layout was printed and put together to understand the usage of the available volume. This type of prototyping makes satellite design, development and assembly less complex and easy to visualise. Such designs can potentially be used to 3D print the structure in different environmental or print conditions such as off-world manufacturing.