Accelerating the serial production of additive manufactured components

Posted on 24 Jul 2018 by Jonny Williamson

Oerlikon AM and RUAG Space - the Space Division of Swiss technology group, RUAG - have joined forces to accelerate the serial production of 3D printed components.

All parts, AM components and systems used in space need to meet highly stringent requirements.

Oerlikon AM and RUAG Space are already working together on the qualification of a bracket that would be installed on a payload fairing.

A new optimised design made possible through additive manufacturing will reportedly reduce costs by 25% and decrease weight by more than 50%, while doubling the stiffness of the bracket.

The collaboration exemplifies the companies’ strong partnership, which will be deepened further through this initiative.

Eddie Andrews, additive manufacturing business development manager at Oerlikon, told The Manufacturer: “It was important for us to partner with companies in the space industry, where there is a much higher degree of innovation than in other industry sectors.”

Additive manufacturing of space components

Within this cooperation, both companies intend to co-develop processes and standards for the metal-based additive manufacturing of space components, the intention being to establish standards suitable for the European space community to adopt.

The partnership will also explore the refinement of existing alloys for the additive manufacturing process and the development of new metallic materials to unlock future design opportunities.

CEO of RUAG Space, Peter Guggenbach noted: “We see this partnership as an important step in unleashing the full value of additive manufacturing in the development of new products that meet the rapidly evolving demands of the space industry.”

UK-based LENA Space partners with Oerlikon 

In 2017, Oerlikon announced a collaboration with UK-based disruptive rocket propulsion start-up, LENA Space, to develop optimised additive manufactured components for propulsion systems, which are used in small launch vehicles to place payloads in low Earth orbit.

This partnership reportedly combines LENA’s experience and vision for fast-to-market, high-performance, low-cost launch propulsion technology with Oerlikon’s end-to-end value proposition in additive manufacturing to drive wider adoption of the technology in the space industry.

LENA Space designs and develops turbines, impellers, pumps, combustion chambers and more – image courtesy of LENA Space.

All parts, components and systems used in space need to meet highly stringent requirements in terms of weight, power, structural design and such forth, and they need to optimally function in demanding space conditions.

Additive manufacturing can help deliver new and cutting-edge technologies and solutions to satisfy such demands.

Collaborating with Oerlikon’s Additive Manufacturing business unit opens up opportunities to unlock new designs with next-generation materials to produce highly functional parts with breakthrough performance. Such knowledge sharing can also foster wider partnerships globally and support the growth and innovation in the space industry.

Aerospace sets the pattern for innovation

Widely regarded as an early adopter, innovator and investigator, aerospace is often where other industries look to for a glimpse at what’s on the horizon.

Fore example, aerospace pioneered the use of carbon fibre and was among the first to  integrate CAD/CAM into its design process. Revolutionary at their time, both have since become commonplace.

The Manufacturer recently spoke with Eddie Andrews, additive manufacturing business development manager at Oerlikon, about the company’s partnership with Lufthansa Technik to establish replicable additive manufacturing (AM) processes and standards for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) applications.