There are many opportunities to optimise the equipment that is launched into space. In addition to removing excess weight and volume, it is critical to ensure reliable performance. 3D Systems recently worked with Thales Alenia Space to balance the volume and mass constraints on an Electrical Thruster mechanism (ETHM) that is used to correctly position the Spacebus NEO satellite. This mechanism had stringent performance requirements, including:
- High angle pointing accuracy (0.1-degrees);
- Part count reduction including functional integration of various thruster commodities (harness and piping);
- Serial production that meets quality requirements for orbital class products.
Download our white paper – Titanium Process Capability Using Laser Powder Bed Fusion - to discover how our direct metal printing (DMP) technology and phase-gated risk management process of qualifying DMP for production are enabling fully qualified serial manufacturing of highly optimized metal parts.
This white paper – Titanium Process Capability Using Laser Powder Bed Fusion - documents a thorough process capability study performed using 3D Systems’ LPBF technology, known as direct metal printing (DMP). Discover the phase-gated risk management process of qualifying DMP for production are enabling fully qualified serial manufacturing of highly optimized metal parts.
Download the white paper to learn:
- How DMP system architecture leads to process robustness
- The phase-gated risk management process of qualifying DMP for production
- Set up and findings of the process characterization design of experiment study
Design and Additive Manufacturing Expertise from 3D Systems to Serve Thales Alenia Space Satellite Sub-System
3D Systems collaborates with Thales Alenia Space in the field of design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) to improve performance of a critical sub-system on its Spacebus NEO satellite. The resultant Electrical THruster Mechanism (ETHM) is comprised of seven different additively manufactured brackets.
Additive manufacturing (AM) enabled the mechanism to be packaged within a limited volume at the lowest possible mass. Experts within 3D Systems’ Application Innovation Group contributed design and manufacturing know-how to Thales Alenia Space’s ETHM project, packaging their expertise within the final build files that were transferred to Thales’ AM production facility in Morocco. This expert-generated manufacturing plan enabled Thales to seamlessly transition production to its own additive manufacturing facility which is outfitted with several 3D Systems’ direct metal printers.
Comprised of seven different additively manufactured brackets, the reliability of the ETHM is mission critical. Four ETHMs are required per satellite, forming the chassis around the engines. These parts perform as two axis gimbals holding the electrical propulsion unit, and enabling it to vector with smooth and steady movements.
In addition to partnering with Thales Alenia Space to combine several functions within a small design space, 3D Systems helped develop a robust manufacturing flow comprising post-processes like CNC-finishing and 100 per cent tomography inspection to guarantee product and process repeatability in an AS9100 controlled environment.
By using additive manufacturing to design and produce a system, Thales Alenia Space triggered an expansion of positive impacts. Light-weighting improved thrust efficiency beyond what conventional manufacturing would allow, which in turn improved fuel efficiency, resulting in lower costs and new opportunities for technical innovation elsewhere.
“Every feature is more or less conventional, but putting them together in a single compact and competitive mechanism is really a challenge," Giles Lubrano, ETHM Product Manager, said.