Giant Satellite Fuel Tank Sets New Record for 3-D Printed Space Parts
by Staff Writers
Denver CO (SPX) Jul 12, 2018
Lockheed Martin has embraced a 3-D printed titanium dome for satellite fuel tanks so big you can't even put your arms around it. The 46-inch- (1.16-meter-) diameter vessel completed final rounds of quality testing this month, ending a multi-year development program to create giant, high-pressure tanks that carry fuel on board satellites.
The titanium tank consists of three parts welded together: two 3-D printed domes that serve as caps, plus a variable-length, traditionally-manufactured titanium cylinder that forms the body.
"Our largest 3-D printed parts to date show we're committed to a future where we produce satellites twice as fast and at half the cost," said Rick Ambrose, Lockheed Martin Space executive vice president.
"And we're pushing forward for even better results. For example, we shaved off 87 percent of the schedule to build the domes, reducing the total delivery timeline from two years to three months."
Satellite fuel tanks must be both strong and lightweight to withstand the rigors of launch and decade-long missions in the vacuum of space. That makes titanium an ideal material, but procuring 4-foot-diameter, 4-inch-thick titanium forgings can take a year or more, making them the most challenging and expensive parts of the tank.
Traditional manufacturing techniques also meant that more than 80 percent of the material went to waste. Now, 3-D printing eliminates all that lost material for the domes, and the titanium used for printing is readily available with no wait time.
"We self-funded this design and qualification effort as an investment in helping our customers move faster and save costs," explained Ambrose.
"These tanks are part of a total transformation in the way we design and deliver space technology. We're making great strides in automation, virtual reality design and commonality across our satellite product line. Our customers want greater speed and value without sacrificing capability in orbit, and we're answering the call."
Even the smallest leak or flaw could be catastrophic for a satellite's operations, so Lockheed Martin engineers went to great lengths to ensure the printed tanks meet or exceed the performance and reliability required by NASA. Engineers and technicians rigorously evaluated the structure, conducting a full suite of tests to demonstrate high tolerances and repeatability.
The tank domes are a leap in size for qualified 3-D printed materials. The largest part previously qualified was a toaster-size electronics enclosure for the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite program. Lockheed Martin's recent accomplishment continues a path of 3-D printed parts that bloomed in recent years.
Since the company launched the first ever printed parts into deep space aboard NASA's Juno spacecraft, it has produced thousands of flight components and even more for tooling and prototyping using a variety of metals and composites.
Technicians used Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing to produce these domes in the largest 3-D printer at our facility in Denver. Lockheed Martin now offers the tank as a standard product option for LM 2100 satellite buses.
Dutch city to unveil world's first 3D-printed housing complex
The Hague (AFP) July 11, 2018
The southern Dutch city of Eindhoven plans to unveil the world's first 3D-printed housing complex next year, which its inventors believe could revolutionise the building industry by speeding up and customising construction. Printed in concrete by a robotic arm, the project backed by the city council, Eindhoven Technical University and several construction companies aims to see its first three-bedroomed home go up by June 2019. Known as Project Milestone, a housing complex of five homes of variou ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.