Swiss company RUAG Space plans to soon be equipping satellites with components made using Additive Manufacturing, making them lighter and cheaper. As part of a pilot project, specialists at RUAG Space have built an antenna support for an Earth observation satellite.
RUAG previously supplied the European Space Agency (ESA) with a similar support for its Sentinel-1A radar satellite, although the support for ESA was manufactured using conventional methods. Collaborating with experts from the company Altair, RUAG engineers have now completely redesigned this support to optimise it for 3D printing.
The Altair Software made it possible to exploit the freedom of design provided by Additive Manufacturing by optimising the topology of the component in order to use only as much material as necessary. Produced by EOS, the finished component is just half the weight of the previous component and has improved rigidity.
To check that the new support is ready for use in space, it is currently undergoing a range of intensive qualification tests that are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. “Our goal is to fit Sentinel-1 successors with antenna supports that have been manufactured using a 3D printer,” stated Michael Pavloff, Chief Technical Officer at RUAG Space.
The design specialists at Altair also benefit from the joint project. “The collaboration with RUAG Space and EOS allows us to deliver even more innovative end-to-end design and optimisation processes to exploit the benefits of Additive Manufacturing,” stated Pietro Cervellera, Managing Director of Altair.