From the 3D Printer into Space

We recently announced that Altair ProductDesign was a proud partner of RUAG Space on the redesign of an optimized antenna support for an Earth observation satellite.  The bracket will be produced using industrial additive manufacturing, or 3D printing.

RUAG Space is Europe’s leading equipment supplier to the space industry, as well as an established international technology group focused on the aerospace and defense markets. RUAG has conducted intensive research and development to explore the possibilities of 3D printing since 2013. In order to design an antenna mount that would take full advantage of the 3D printing manufacturing method, engineers needed to create an aluminum component that would be significantly stiffer and lighter. To redesign and optimize the antenna, engineers used Altair HyperWorks® solver OptiStruct®, guaranteeing a load-sufficient material distribution. For the design, engineers used solidThinking Evolve®. In only four weeks, the component design was completed in close collaboration with EOS, the German market leader in industrial 3D printing that took care of the manufacturing. The team achieved significant weight reduction while obtaining exceptional strength through the combination of topology optimization and 3D printing.


“Our goal is to equip one of the future Sentinel-1 satellites with antenna support components that have been manufactured using an industrial 3D printer,” explained Michael Pavloff, Chief Technical Officer at RUAG Space. “3D printing has enormous potential for our business, and we are currently in the process of developing further space applications. In the future, it will be possible to create the entire satellite structure using a 3D printer. This means that electrical harnesses, reflectors, heating pipes, and other assemblies that today still have to be manufactured individually could then be integrated directly into the structural elements.”

The antenna support is one of the longest metal components ever produced using the powder bed manufacturing method. It has undergone a series of intensive qualification tests. “At Altair, we were delighted to contribute to such a significant milestone in satellite design. The collaboration with RUAG Space and EOS allowed us to deliver even more innovative end-to-end design and optimization processes to exploit the benefits of additive manufacturing,” noted Pietro Cervellera, Managing Director of Altair GmbH.


This exciting project was presented at EuroMold 2014 during the Altair-hosted Additive Manufacturing Design and Engineering Symposium.


Mirko Bromberger
Mirko Bromberger

About Mirko Bromberger

Mirko Bromberger is Altair's Marketing Director at Altair GmbH. He has a degree in Industrial Engineering from University of Applied Sciences in Furtwangen, Germany. He has been with Altair since 2004, working in various positions in consulting, application engineering, sales and marketing.