Swissto12, a 3D printing specialist, has secured about $28 million in debt in order to expand its manufacturing business. The aim is to disrupt the geostationary market by developing smaller satellites. Since its inception in 2011, the venture has raised more than 50 million euros ($54 million) in venture capital funding. Initially, Swissto12 focused on 3D-printed radio frequency components but later expanded to building entire satellites with the support of the European Space Agency.
The company plans to utilize its expertise in additive manufacturing to accelerate production, reduce costs, and enhance performance. Although not all of Swissto12’s HummingSat satellite platform will be 3D-printed, the strategy is to leverage the technology to make these satellites smaller and more affordable. HummingSat is about the size of a dishwasher and is approximately three times cheaper than traditional commercial telecoms satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO), which are usually ten times larger.
Swissto12’s goal is to cater to the demand for more localized services by offering satellites with reduced capacity compared to their larger counterparts. Intelsat became the company’s first customer last year, and Viasat-owned Inmarsat followed suit in May by purchasing three HummingSats for a launch in 2026.
Swissto12 revealed in a news release on September 13th that it has more than 200 million euros in orders for HummingSats and its radio frequency product business combined. This highlights the increasing demand for smaller satellite ventures, as six out of the ten orders for GEO commercial communications satellites this year have been placed with such companies.
Traditional geostationary players have cautiously welcomed these market entrants, citing the need for supplier diversification in response to the growing demand for broadband. However, they do not anticipate a direct impact on the GEO market and remain focused on innovation. The industry is still in the early stages of this shift, and it is important for these smaller satellite companies to demonstrate successful execution and delivery of their products to meet objectives.