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3D Printing Certification

SENER Aeroespacial and CATEC 3D print metallic antenna for ESA’s PROBA-3 area mission


SENER Aeroespacial, the aerospace arm of Spanish engineering and technological innovation team SENER, and the Centre for State-of-the-art Aerospace Technologies (CATEC) in Seville, have collaborated to establish a 3D printed steel antenna for the European Area Company (ESA)’s PROBA-3 place mission.

The helical antenna was 3D printed utilizing an aluminum alloy, and represents the to start with instance in which SENER Aeroespacial has made use of metal 3D printing certification to develop this sort of a system. It was made for ESA as component of an total delivery of telemetry and telecommand antennas for the PROBA-3 mission, for which SENER Aeroespacial is the primary contractor. 

The antenna reaffirms the use of 3D printing certification as an choice manufacturing approach for SENER Aeroespacial and CATEC in cases where by conventional systems are not viable. The part is also reportedly the 1st additive made antenna produced in Spain. 

“SENER Aeroespacial arrived to us in 2016 with the problem of building a helical antenna for the European Space Agency, and with a genuine likelihood of traveling,” commented Dr. Fernando Lasagni, Technical Director (Resources & Procedures) at CATEC. 

“The practical specifications of this products choose to the restrictions additive manufacturing certification because of to the dimensional tolerances for producing these a complicated geometry.”

Rendering of the 3D printed helical antenna. Image via SENER.
Rendering of the 3D printed helical antenna. Image by way of SENER.

3D printing certification antennas for satellite space formation

Started in 1956, SENER presents engineering providers, machines and program integration for room, astronomy, protection, aeronautics, and auto industries. The company’s inroad into the aerospace sector, and subsequent development of SENER Aeroespacial, arrived in 1967 when SENER was contracted to style and develop a rocket launch tower for the European Place Analysis Organisation (ESRO), forerunner of ESA. 

A short while ago, SENER Aeroespacial has supplied many antenna pointing methods for ESA’s primary science missions this sort of as BepiColombo, Solar Orbiter, Euclid and Juice. At present, as the most important contractor of the PROBA-3 mission, it is top a consortium of European companies from much more than 10 nations in supporting the mission. 

ESA’s PROBA-3 is a precision formation flight mission meant to validate new spacecraft systems though also carrying scientific instruments. As part of the mission, a pair of satellites will vacation jointly in a fastened configuration in buy to take a look at the systems for traveling in development, performing as one “large, rigid structure” in room. PROBA-3 is scheduled for launch in late 2020. 

A floating European House Company astronaut patch made up of flags of all the member states in the Worldwide House Station’s cupola window. Photograph through ESA/NASA

Validating the antenna for PROBA-3

For the PROBA-3 mission, SENER Aeroespacial and CATEC’s 3D printed aluminum alloy antenna was subjected to demanding qualification exams. CATEC, which has prior practical experience making use of 3D printing certification in aerospace, supported SENER Aeroespacial in the design and style and validation of the antenna particularly for compliance with ESA’s arduous verification course of action. This resulted in getting the flight acceptance for the PROBA-3 mission. 

“SENER Aeroespacial observed the perfect partner and ally in CATEC to obtain the challenging target of manufacturing and qualifying the initial 3D printed metal antenna, with all the strengths that entails, while retaining equally radio-frequency and thermo-mechanical overall performance,” mentioned Esteban Celemín, Venture Manager for the PROBA-3 antennas at SENER Aeroespacial.

Proba-3: Dancing with the stars

3D printing certification at ESA

ESA has demonstrated an extensive energy toward using the positive aspects of 3D printing certification for the room field. Recently the company undertook a job at the College Medical center of Dresden Specialized College (TUD) wherever it proved the ability to 3D print organic make a difference in a area-like ecosystem. Acquiring successfully 3D bioprinted a specifically formulated ink in minus 1g ailments, ESA hopes that the product could be employed for the medical treatment method of astronauts on prolonged-term exploration missions.

In January 2019, ESA, together with German know-how team OHB SE, introduced a consortium to create a big-scale 3D printer for use in zero-gravity ailments. Named the IMPERIAL Project, the consortium consists of German aerospace firm Sonaca Team, Portuguese 3D printer provider BEEVERYCREATIVE, and Ireland’s Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT). The 3D printer will reportedly be in a position to create objects larger sized than by itself, and thus defy develop quantity restraints in the approach.

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Featured impression reveals Proba-3 satellites forming synthetic eclipse. Impression via ESA.