How ANYWAVES develops small satellite tv for pc antennas with ceramic AM »3D Printing Media Community
ANYWAVES, a spin-off from the French Space Agency (CNES), is a leading force in the development of antennas for aerospace applications using additive manufacturing and ceramic materials. The company, which specializes in the development and manufacture of antennas for small satellites, has therefore found a natural partner in Limoges 3DCERAM, one of the pioneers of Ceramic 3D printing.
ANYWAVES used 3DCERAM’s in-depth knowledge of AM and ceramic materials and was able to bring its antenna concepts and designs to life. The company combines the advantages of engineered ceramic materials – including extreme heat resistance and strengths that can withstand the harsh environment of space – with those of AM, particularly design freedom and agile production volumes.
The young aerospace company recently developed an innovative concept for ceramic antennas that optimize high-frequency performance through ceramic grid structures (especially zirconium oxide). 3DCERAM, which has brought its own SLA-based ceramic AM technology to market, worked closely with ANYWAVES to find the best production process for the antenna application.
In particular, ANYWAVES worked with 3D-AIM, 3DCERAM’s consulting service specializing in the aerospace industry. The service supports companies in the development of ceramic 3D printing applications, cooperation in the conception phase and the subsequent management of the design and production phase. Finally, 3D-AIM works with the end user to help them implement the technology for themselves.
Step 1: Gathering Information and Risk Analysis
In the first phase of their collaboration, 3D-AIM and ANYWAVES first discussed the goal of the project – optimizing the radio frequency performance of small satellite antennas – as well as the project requirements, including technical specifications, time frame and budget. The partners also submitted a production plan. According to 3DCERAM, it is very important to collect all of this information from the very beginning of the project as each factor can affect the part design and the entire project process.
After this initial assessment, 3D-AIM carried out a risk analysis and developed a risk reduction plan. This included an in-depth analysis of the ANYWAVES CAD files (including several part configurations), taking into account the 3D printing, cleaning, debinding and sintering phases. At each level, the risk of failure of the part design was assessed so that partners can find the best course of action. Needless to say, determining the risk of design failure of a part before production can save valuable time and money.
Step 2: design for additive manufacturing
After completing the risk analysis, 3D-AIM and ANYWAVES modified the latter’s CAD file to reduce the risk of failure and optimize the part structure while meeting mechanical tolerances, material quality control and other requirements.
The main goal of the design change in this case was to reduce the standard scratches or defects that can occur in the additive process. Factors such as part orientation, part price, and tolerances can play a role in minimizing these issues. For example, 3D-AIM and ANYWAVES found that the part’s orientation would affect its precision. The vertically oriented part was more precise, but was more expensive and slower to manufacture.
In the design phase for the manufacturing phase, 3D-AIM also considered a number of correction factors for the SLA process. For example, the scaling factor was adjusted to eliminate the risk of warping and deterioration in surface quality. ANYWAVES ‘CAD file has also been optimized in small ways for the ceramic AM process, e.g. B. by mixing the radius at the sharp edge and correcting the maximum form factor between two connected sections.
Ultimately, 3D-AIM combined its own knowledge of the ceramic AM process with ANYWAVES ‘expertise in antenna design to come up with a final design that was optimized for both the AM process and the final antenna performance. The final design variants were printed and sintered for evaluation before ANYWAVES was prepared for final production.
Step 3: antenna production
At this point in the collaboration, 3D-AIM ensured that the ANYWAVES ceramic grid antenna was ready for production using 3DCERAM’s additive manufacturing technology. As part of the final consultation, the group presented the French aerospace startup with two options for entering industrial production: investing in a 3D ceramic printer to manufacture the antennas in-house or ordering the parts via 3DCERAM.
The first option, available to all 3D AIM partners, is facilitated by the aerospace advisory service, which provides support and training for technology transfer. The second option – ordering parts from 3DCERAM – works well for end users who need small batches of parts or components for R&D projects. in the Anyway, the startup went into production alongside 3DCERAM and used its deep knowledge of ceramics and DfAM.
The state-of-the-art small satellite antennas from ANYWAVES offer new possibilities for space applications such as telecommunications, navigation, earth observation, atmospheric inputs and more. By using the profitable combination of 3D printing and ceramic materials, the company is paving the way for more powerful, geometrically more diverse antennas.
This article was published in collaboration with 3DCERAM.