I have sculpted MLI for a Spektr-RG model for 3d-printing a few weeks ago. I used dyntopo while sculpting on a mesh exported from CAD. After finishing the sculpt I had to fix hundrets of problems in the mesh (holes, non manifold edges etc) before I used the decimate modifier to reduce the vertex count. The advantage of sculpting MLI is that it tends to form pretty sharp wrinkles between almost plain areas, so the decimate modifier can be used very nicely with the option “by angle”. Here’s a photo of my the half finished prototype print.
More or less yes. I started with the hardware of the satellites in CAD. These were used to approximate the shapes of the MLI with boxy solids, which were modified to be printable parts with assembly keys. After exporting them to blender, the MLI was just sculpted on the respective areas of the parts.
No, I used reference pictures of the spacecraft and sculpted the wrinkles one by one using a “draw” brush with sharp falloff. In my eyes it is essential not to use a general texture, as the pattern of the wrinkles is very specific to the underlying shape the foil follows, and where seams etc are located.
I was in the same situation some month ago and I opted for a base mesh, duplicate it and sculpt it with dinamichtopo, mainly using crease brush. Bake normal maps and apply them on the base mesh.
The result is far from beeing perfect but surely it can be sculpted better than what I did.
You can see it here: