The future is here: Advanced Manufacturing for space

To go to new places in space, or do new things, usually demands innovative technologies, and often novel materials and manufacturing techniques as well. So ESA and NASA have teamed up to support a major international conference on Advanced Manufacturing – bringing together Industry 4.0 with Space 4.0.


3D-molded interconnect devices
3D-molded interconnect devices

Industry 4.0 on a space trajectory

In the Space 4.0 era, fuelled by digitalisation and the increased global interplay of governments, private sectors, academia and the society, the space community is making major advances through spin-in and technology maturation, and has equally become a stimulus for technology spin-offs.

As a result, space has become a driver not only for knowledge, inspiration, cooperation and policymaking, but also for high-end technology integration into the manufacturing domain. Closely intertwined with Space 4.0 is therefore the next industrial revolution, Industry 4.0 – an era that is already showcasing the benefits of increased connectivity, intelligence, flexible automation and advanced manufacturing in the industrial landscape.

Today, smart and advanced manufacturing technologies including 3D printing, virtual testing, big data-driven and quality control processes are altering the manufacturing supply chain, progressively increasing customer value and supply chain efficiency.

3D-printed brackets for space
3D-printed brackets for space

ESA’s Advanced Manufacturing initiative

ESA’s Advanced Manufacturing cross-cutting initiative aims to home in on emerging manufacturing technologies that overcome the limitations imposed by traditional manufacturing techniques, in the process opening up new industrial possibilities in terms of design freedom, streamlined production stages and reduced cost and increased performance.

Since the start of the initative, more than 100 technology development activities have been kicked-off with the European space industry, covering technology maturation in the area of materials and processes.

These include surface engineering; shaping; additive manufacturing; composite manufacturing; joining; virtual manufacturing; embedded sensors; process modelling and simulation. The initiative has brought together industrial and institutional partners from all sectors of the manufacturing and design domain of space, and has assisted in the development and industrialisation of manufacturing processes in Europe.

Silicon carbide mirror subjected to thermal–vacuum testing
Silicon carbide mirror subjected to thermal–vacuum testing

Join us on our journey

In the advent of Space 4.0 and Industry 4.0, the 1st International Conference on Advanced Manufacturing for Air, Space and Land Transportation, co-organised by ESA and NASA, will bring together the space, aeronautics and land transportation engineering and manufacturing community.

The aim of the conference – taking place on 7-11 March 2022 – is to promote and facilitate discussion and exchange of experience among members of various engineering disciplines; covering design, development, assembly, integration and verification aspects. By bringing the community closer together the conference will facilitate cross-fertilisation opportunities and promote an inter-sectorial technical and commercial exchange worldwide.

Special focus on ‘immature technology’

As part of the conference, a special event on 11 March dedicated to ‘immature technology’, will give students and researchers the chance to present their ideas to the advanced manufacturing community consisting of representatives from leading space agencies, industries and academia. The best contributions will be voted for and proposed for future collaboration with ESA. The Immature Technology day aims to raise awareness of the International aerospace community of technologies that are still in their infancy with all associated issues, but with plenty of future promise.


ESA's technical heart
ESA’s technical heart



Register for the conference

Join us again for an in-person event on 7-11 March 2022, at ESA’s ESTEC, technical centre in the Netherlands.

Submit your abstract to the 1st International Conference on Advanced Manufacturing for Air, Space and Land Transportation and the Immature Technology Day before our 15 November 2021 deadline.