Heat switches are devices that can change from a thermally conducting (on-) state to an insulating (off-) state whenever the need arises. They enable adaptive thermal management strategies in which cooling rates are altered either spatially or temporally, leading to a substantial reduction in the energy and mass budget of a large range of systems. State-of-the-art heat switches are only rarely employed in thermal system architectures, since they are rather bulky and have a limited thermal performance (expressed as the heat transfer ratio between the on- and off-state heat conductance). Using selective laser melting additive manufacturing technology, also known as 3D printing, we developed a compact flat-panel gas-gap heat switch that offers superior thermal performance, is simpler and more economic to produce and assemble, contains no moving parts, and is more reliable because it lacks welded joints. The manufactured rectangular panel heat switch has frontal device dimensions of 10 cm by 10 cm, thickness of 3.2 mm and weighs just 121 g. An off heat conductance of 0.2 W/K and on-off heat conductance ratio of 38 is observed at 295 K.