This lecture was recorded and can be viewed below.

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We were delighted to welcome Dr Carolyn Atkins, STFC UK Astronomy Technology Centre, as a guest speaker. Her lecture was given on Wednesday 11th May at 1-2.30pm, via Google Meet.

Additive manufacture & astronomical instrumentation: down the rabbit hole


From ground-based extremely large telescopes to space-based flagship telescopes and everything in between, astronomical instrumentation (telescopes and instruments) frequently pushes the boundaries of engineering disciplines. This lecture looks at the role of additive manufacture within this domain, the significant advantages it can offer (mass reduction, part consolidation), but also the challenges it must first overcome (heritage, trained engineers and material consistency). To facilitate the discussion, the case study of lightweight mirrors will be presented explaining how additive manufacture can be used to create lighter and more rigid mirrors, but also some of the specific challenges that have been encountered to date, porosity and working with near net shapes.


Dr Atkins, Research Scientist at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) in Edinburgh was awarded a Future Leaders Fellowship (FLF) in 2020. The programme, from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), supports the next generation of talented people in their field. Carolyn’s research is focused on methods to 3D-print lightweight mirrors for telescopes in space – when weight and volume limits are critical.

MAPP Lecture Series - Dr Carolyn Atkins