Satellites currently under construction by Thales Alenia Space will include the largest spacecraft parts ever made in Europe using additive manufacturing. The telemetry and command antenna supports for the Koreasat 5A and Koreasat 7 telecommunications satellites are made of aluminium and measure 45 x 40 x 21cm.
Thales Alenia Space used the Concept Laser Xline 1000R 3D printer, the largest laser beam melting machine in Europe. The machine belongs to Poly-Shape, a French company and partner of Thales Alenia Space.
The additive production process for the parts gave a 22 per cent weight saving, a decrease in the production schedule of around one or two months, around a 30 per cent cost saving, and higher performance, according to Thales Alenia Space.
The two parts, featuring an innovative bio-design, have just passed their vibration acceptance tests, demonstrating perfectly reproducible dynamic behaviour.
An antenna support of this type is already in orbit since April 2015 on the TurkmenAlem satellite also built by Thales Alenia Space. The Arabsat 6B satellite, scheduled for launch from the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana in November, includes 3D-printed tripods.
One of Thales Alenia Space's primary strategic objectives is the transformation of its industrial capabilities, also an indispensable step for the company to meet evolving market demand in terms of cost and deadlines. Thales Alenia Space is deploying innovative technologies as part of this overall approach, which is reflected in the increasing use of additive manufacturing, as well as robotic and collaborative robotics.