Anywaves brings 3DCeram on board for 3D-printed satellite tv for pc antennas

3D printing OEM and service agency 3DCeram supported the spin-out Anywaves from the French space agency (CNES) in the development of a 3D-printed ceramic antenna for small satellites.

For the past 18 months, Anywaves has worked with 3DCeram’s 3D AIM consulting service to develop its GNSS L1 / E1 ribbon antenna in a three-step process that includes feasibility studies, design and manufacturing discussions, and risk analysis. 3D-AIM helps aerospace companies build ceramic applications from the ground up through parts manufacturing, manage the design and production phases, and later with the technology transfer to the end user.

The new satellite antenna is now ready for series production. Anywaves is currently deciding whether to use 3DCeram’s additive manufacturing services or to use the technology internally.

The GNSS L1 / E1 ribbon antenna printed by 3DCeram for Anywaves. Image via Anywaves.

Design antenna

The two companies first conducted a risk analysis that identified the technical and economic requirements of the antenna Anywaves wanted to build and assessed the probability of failure during the printing, cleaning, debinding and sintering processes. 3DCeram performed a CAD analysis of various part configurations and shapes and created various designs based on a range of simple and complex lattice structures.

In the next phase of the 3D AIM program, the design of CAD files will be modified with the involvement of the customer in order to merge the results of the risk analysis with mechanical tolerance restrictions and material quality control, among other things. Then CAD design proposals were created for the part in which the part orientation, part tolerances, etc. were examined. The design also had to be tweaked and corrected so that Anywaves’ SLA printing process could be used.

The design through to manufacture included not only the printing time, costs and surface properties, but also the configuration of the printing accuracy of the antenna. Then pressure and burn tests of the antenna were carried out to increase the design maturity for the 3D printing process.

For lattice structures, 3DCeram has already produced different types of constructions, from the simplest (left) to the finest and most complex (right). Image via 3DCeram.

Serial production

The end result of the 3D AIM process resulted in a slim and compactly designed antenna for small satellites that has excellent radio frequency performance and radiation properties. According to 3DCeram, due to the choice of materials and the solderless feeding system of the printing process, the part can withstand harsh environments without thermal protection.

Now that the antenna has been developed and is ready for mass production, Anywaves is currently deciding how best to achieve this, either by outsourcing production through 3DCeram’s customizable 3D printing service or investing in a 3DCeram printer to produce parts in Bring self-directed.

Proba-3 satellites form an artificial solar eclipse. Image via ESA.

3D printing satellite components

3D printing is increasingly being used to provide new approaches to the design and manufacture of components for satellites and other aerospace applications.

In 2015, the European Space Agency (ESA) signed a major contract with Lausanne-based start-up SWISSto12 to use the company’s 3D-printed antennas in its satellites, which were found to be significantly lighter and less expensive than traditional metal antennas. More recently, ESA commissioned SENER Aerospacial and the Center for Advanced Aerospace Technologies (CATEC) to develop a 3D-printed metal antenna for their PROBA-3 space mission.

The German machine tool manufacturer TRUMPF demonstrated the possible applications of 3D printing for satellites and aircraft at the International Paris Air Show 2019, while the Franco-Italian aerospace manufacturer Thales Alenia Space announced that it is using 3D printing for the series production of its satellites started in the same year.

Another recent collaboration on the development of 3D printed satellite parts was with Canadian manufacturing services bureau Burloak Technologies and communications firm MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA), where the companies use additive manufacturing to help design and manufacture a range of antenna technologies to be optimized over the next five years.

TRUMPF 3D printed an assembly structure for the microwave filter in the German communications satellite Heinrich Hertz and reduced the weight by 55%. Image via OHB System AG / TRUMPF.

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The picture shown shows the GNSS L1 / E1 ribbon antenna that was printed by AnyCaves with 3DCeram. Image via Anywaves.

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