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The space industry needs 3D printing standards

High-precision additive manufacturing processes are increasingly spurring on space travel. By intensifying their cooperation, RUAG and Oerlikon want to give new impetus to 3D printing and create valid standards across Europe.

02 Aug. 2018
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The space industry needs 3D printing standards (Photo: RUAG Holding AG)

The cooperation between the materials, systems and surface experts from Oerlikon and the space supplier RUAG Space wants to set new standards in the additive manufacturing of metal components for space travel. The primary objectives are to speed up manufacturing processes while improving quality and creating Europe-wide standards and new industrial manufacturing processes. In addition to the optimization of alloys already in use, they are striving to develop new, metal-based materials as a basis for stable lightweight components.

The cooperation is already bearing fruit. Thanks to its optimized design, a 3D print-mounted bracket on a payload fairing already excels with a 25 percent cost and 50 percent weight reduction compared to a component from previous manufacturing processes. At the same time it has a higher degree of rigidity. Almost at the same time, Oerlikon concluded a cooperation contract with Lufthansa in the area of maintenance, repair and overhaul. It again concerns repeatable 3D printing processes. The space industry as a whole increasingly relies on additive manufacturing technologies. Recently, the US company Lockheed Martin presented record-sized fuel tanks for satellites made of titanium through an additive manufacturing process.