Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing Now Qualified for Huge Satellite Fuel Tanks
Ian Wright posted on July 19, 2018 |
(Image courtesy of Lockheed Martin Space.)
(Image courtesy of Lockheed Martin.)
Sciaky, Inc., a subsidiary of Phillips Service Industries, Inc. (PSI), has announced the successful completion of qualification testing for its Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) process. The testing was performed by Lockheed Martin Space on a multi-year development program to create giant, high-pressure tanks, which carry fuel for satellites.

Lockheed Martin, which 3D printed both halves of the 46-inch titanium fuel tank domes on a Sciaky EBAM 110 machine, announced to the media last week that the tanks met or exceeded the performance and reliability required by NASA, allowing it to become a standard product option on LM 2100 satellites.

Satellite fuel tanks must be both strong and lightweight to withstand the rigors of launch and decade-long missions in the vacuum of space. Even the smallest leak or flaw could be catastrophic for a satellite's operations, so Lockheed Martin engineers went to great lengths to ensure the tanks would meet NASA's stringent requirements.

Lockheed Martin reduced production time of the fuel tank domes by 87 percent while reducing delivery time from two years to three months. According to Sciaky, with traditional manufacturing techniques, 80 percent of the expensive titanium material was wasted. However, the company states that with its EBAM process, material waste is a nonfactor and the titanium used for printing is readily available, with no wait time.

(Image courtesy of Lockheed Martin.)
(Image courtesy of Lockheed Martin.)
"Sciaky's EBAM technology is now the world's only large-scale metal 3D printing process that has qualified applications for land, sea, air, and space," said Scott Phillips, President and CEO of Sciaky, Inc. "We are delighted to work with the innovators at Lockheed Martin Space and will continue to push the boundaries of additive manufacturing."

Sciaky's EBAM systems can produce parts ranging from 8 inches (203 mm) to 19 feet (5.79 meters) in length. The company also states that EBAM is the fastest deposition process in the metal additive manufacturing market, with gross deposition rates ranging from seven to 25 lbs. (3.18 to 11.34 kg) of metal per hour.

For more information on large-scale additive manufacturing, check out WAAM, BAAM, Thank You, AM.

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