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.
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.

Airbus’ defense and space division is using EOS additive manufacturing (AM) technology to produce satellite parts.

Airbus defense 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.

Cost savings

Titanium brackets manufactured conventionally did not meet their expectations, whilst subsequent installation on the satellite component was very time-consuming so costs needed to be reduced as well. As a result, the company decided to manufacture the part in a single step on an EOSINT M 280 direct metal laser sintering system (DMLS). The structure can now 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 addition to the technical advantages, targeted cost reductions were achieved as savings in production alone amount to more than 20%, while the weight advantage of the part is about 300g, which means nearly one kilo per satellite. The production time of the three brackets required for each satellite is now less than a month.

This story is reprinted from material from EOS, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.