Airbus Defence and Space Uses EOS Additive Process in Production of Satellite Parts


The Airbus Defence and Space division, one of the world’s leading suppliers of satellite and space transport technology, relies on EOS, global technology and quality leader for high-end Additive Manufacturing (AM) solutions, for the optimized production of satellite parts.
Airbus Defence and Space’s portfolio ranges from satellite systems to components for the International Space Station ISS, where part requirements are particularly high because of the tremendous temperature differences and external forces involved.
The current generation of satellites includes specific brackets that serve as a link between the body of the satellite and the reflectors and feeder facilities mounted at its upper end. Originally, the engineers faced two key challenges with regards to the design of these retaining brackets: They must fix securely to the body, yet have to mitigate the extreme temperature fluctuations in space and serve as a layer of insulation as temperatures range from -180 to +150 °C. So the stress on the material is extremely high and very few materials can meet these requirements. Titanium turned out to be the appropriate material choice due to its weight and thermal conductivity as well as an acceptable density. After all, every kilogram carried into space costs many thousand dollars.airbus_indianbureaucracy
Brackets manufactured conventionally and especially their connection with the carbon components of the satellite did not meet their expectations. Subsequent installation on the satellite component was very time-consuming so costs needed to be reduced as well. As such, the engineers began looking for alternatives with the aim of optimizing the design of future components accordingly.
The company finally chose the Metal AM technology offered by EOS which also enabled them to continue using titanium that was already a tried and tested material. Component design as such could easily be adapted and production itself optimized. Today, Airbus Defence and Space manufactures the part in a single step on an EOSINT M 280 Direct Metal Laser Sintering System (DMLS) which meets all expectations. The temperature resistance of the entire structure could be improved, which now can easily and permanently withstand a margin of 330 °C under a force of 20 kN. This also significantly reduces thermally induced failure during the qualification test campaign.
In sum, AM brought measurable benefits to critical aspects of the project without the need for compromising elsewhere. In addition to the technical advantages, targeted cost reductions were achieved as savings in production alone amount to more than 20%. Moreover, the weight advantage of the part is about 300 g, which means nearly one kilo per satellite. Production time of the brackets during assembly of feed and sub reflector units could be reduced by five days. Production time of the three brackets required for each satellite is now less than a month.

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