3D Systems will produce and supply critical parts to Airbus Defence and Space for its new OneSat commercial satellite. The contract involves “an end-to-end, additive manufacturing solution” developed by 3D Systems and consisting of materials, 3D printing technology, software, and expertise, which will be used to produce components for the satellite’s the large antenna array.
OneSat is a telecom satellite design that can be fully reconfigured while in orbit, and capable of adjusting its coverage area, capacity, and frequency to meet evolving mission scenarios. The satellite is designed according to a standard, modular, and design-to-manufacture approach. It can be delivered more quickly than competing telecom satellites and at a reduced cost.3D Systems develops production processes for additive manufacturing, as well as programming and simulations software, and it develops and supplies raw materials for those operations. By manufacturing the satellite components additively, 3D Systems said it achieves design freedom that allows weight reduction, part performance optimization, and faster time to market, which promotes more rapid deployment.
3D Systems was selected for the Airbus project based on the part quality achievable with its DMP systems, as well as expertise developed over past work with Airbus Defence and Space.
Each OneSat satellite requires two large antenna arrays, one to transmit signals and one to receive. 3D Systems’ DMP Factory 500 Solution will perform serial production of the antennae components using LaserForm AlSi10Mg and specific parameters developed by the AIG for this application to achieve the required 30-µm layer thickness.
The DMP Factory 500 was selected based on its build volume (500X500X500mm), accuracy, and rapid print speed. The multi-laser configuration of this printer results in production of seamless large parts, resulting in highest surface quality and outstanding material properties. The printer includes a vacuum chamber that allows for the lowest possible oxygen content in the build chamber, to protect chemical composition and reduce the moisture content of the metal powder alloys during manufacturing.
In addition to providing design and production expertise, 3D Systems’ Application Innovation Group is also acting as project manager, identifying subcontractors for post-processing and quality inspection of the additive manufactured parts.
“We value our long-standing partnership with Airbus Defence and Space, and are pleased with how our collective work continues to make its mark in telecommunications satellites,” stated Dr, Michael Shepard, vice president, aerospace and defense segment, 3D Systems.
“As with our earliest work with Airbus on the first additively manufactured RF filter, we have the opportunity to bring another ‘first’ to the industry that is changing telecommunications. Our AIG has laid the groundwork for developing the application for this component and completing the technology transfer.”