3D Systems has entered into a new partnership with Fleet Space Technologies, which specializes in the production of innovative RF patch antennas for use in the Alpha satellite constellation. The combination of Fleet Space Technologies’ unique design and the experience of the 3D Systems Application Innovation Group (AIG) allowed for the design of a complete additive manufacturing solution – which includes process development and bridge manufacturing on DMP Flex 350 3D metal printers. design to small batch production in just three weeks.

Fleet Space Technologies has installed a DMP Flex 350 3D printer at its Beverley, Adelaide site, allowing the company to start producing patch antennas on its own. The 3D printer will be used to create an RF antenna for each of the Alpha satellites operating in the Low Earth Orbit constellation as part of Fleet Space Technologies’ ExoSphere initiative, which aims to explore mining with minimal environmental impact.

Fleet Space Technologies has designed the antenna to meet size, weight and performance requirements while minimizing the need for post-processing. The team knew that the only way to realize the patch antenna geometry was through additive manufacturing. AIG, part of 3D Systems, has developed 3D printing processes to manufacture the antenna using the DMP Flex 350 3D printer from two different materials – LaserForm AlSi10Mg and Al6061-RAM2.

A key consideration in selecting the machine was the unique architecture of the DMP Flex 350 vacuum chamber, which maintains a low oxygen environment (<25 ppm). Not only is the argon gas consumption significantly reduced, the vacuum chamber architecture also provides a good surface finish with fine detail, minimizing satellite signal loss. The team is able to quickly and inexpensively produce 55 RF patch antennas in a single production run.

Source: www.3dsystems.com

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