I used this technology to create a 1:1 scale model of the telescope which is the hardware core of the space small mission CHEOPS (CHaracterising ExOPlanets Satellite) by ESA, which aims to characterize EXOplanets via transits observations. The telescope has a Ritchey-Chrétien configuration with a 30cm aperture and the launch is foreseen in 2017. In this paper, I present the different phases for the realization of such a model, focusing onto pros and cons of this kind of technology. For example, because of the finite printable volume (10×10×12 inches in the x, y and z directions respectively), it has been necessary to split the largest parts of the instrument in smaller components to be then reassembled and post-processed. A further issue is the resolution of the printed material, which is expressed in terms of layers thickness, in the Z direction, and in drop-per-inch, in X and Y directions.
3D printing is also an easy and quick production technique, which can become useful in the ad-hoc realization of mechanical components for optical setups to be used in a laboratory for new concept studies and validation, reducing the manufacturing time. With this technique, indeed, it is possible to realize in few hours custom-made mechanical parts, without any specific knowledge and expertise in tool machinery, as long as the resolution and size are compliant with the requirements.