Fleet Space Technologies Leverages 3D Printing Technology and 3D System Experience to Produce RF Patch Antennas

Do you remember Space Technology Fleet ? The space company, which recently announced that it had made contact with its 12-kilogram satellite, has successfully launched into orbit. As part of its project, the company is constantly exploring the extent to which AM could be integrated into the development of its network of low-power satellites. The company is currently working on the production of its patch antennas, which will contribute to the development of the next fully additive microarray Alpha, which is scheduled for launch in 2023.

With this in mind, the Australian company’s team is currently working with Innovative Applications Group (AIG) of 3D Systems, a consulting group known for developing key applications for companies in vertical sectors adopting additive manufacturing technologies.

In this particular case, the combination of Fleet Space Technologies’ unique design and the expertise of 3D Systems’ Application Innovation Group (AIG) enabled them to develop a complete additive manufacturing solution that includes process development and 3D printer manufacturing. DMP Flex 350 – Allows companies to move from existing Fleet Space RF patch design to low-volume production in as little as three weeks.

The Alpha Fleet Constellation represents a significant step forward in our mission to unlock the potential of truly global connectivity, creating global benefits for applications such as finding more sustainable and viable critical minerals. “, said Flavia Tata Nardini, founder and CEO of Fleet Space Technologies. ” To achieve this, we are constantly striving to find other ways to produce our technology to deliver exceptional quality at scale and in a cost-effective way. With AIG 3D Systems, we are unlocking the remarkable potential of additive manufacturing at our world-class manufacturing facility in Adelaide, South Australia. This technology will allow our employees to create manufacturing processes that will fulfill Fleet’s ambition to launch more than 140 satellites into low orbit in the Alpha constellation. »

According to a press release, Fleet Space Technologies is commissioning a DMP Flex 350 printer at its headquarters in Beverly, Adelaide for in-house production of patch antennas. The printer will be used to create RF patch antennas for each of the Alpha satellites operating in low Earth orbit as part of Fleet Space Technologies’ ExoSphere initiative to explore minerals with minimal environmental impact.

From an engineering point of view, it should be noted that the design of the antenna meets the requirements for size, weight and performance, while minimizing the need for post-processing. 3DXpert® software helped support every step of the additive manufacturing workflow, from design to post-processing. At the production level, two materials were used in the DMP Flex 350 3D printer: LaserForm AlSi10Mg as well as Al6061-RAM2.

The unique architecture of the DMP Flex 350 vacuum chamber, which supports low oxygen (<25 ppm) environments, was key. According to 3D Systems, not only is argon consumption significantly reduced, but the vacuum chamber architecture ensures good surface quality with fine details, minimizing signal loss.

Using a combination of these technologies, the team was able to produce 55 RF patch antennas per DMP Flex 350 assembly.

Our work with Fleet Space Technologies is another example of how 3D Systems is helping aerospace customers accelerate innovation and reduce risk when developing applications for additive manufacturing. “, said Michael Shepard, vice president of the aerospace and defense segment of 3D Systems. ” We achieve this by partnering with our customers to provide them with an application solution with hardware, materials, software and services tailored to their needs. In this case, we were able to help Fleet Space Technologies set up a qualified manufacturing process for its own satellite equipment in the shortest possible time. »

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