The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected Siemens Digital Industries Software (www.news.siemens.com
) to develop aerospace design applications for metal additive manufacturing (AM).
The applications will ‘leverage’ Siemens’ ‘end to end’ software solution for industrial AM that combines “generative engineering, topology optimisation, predictive analytics, process simulation, build preparation and production execution”.
The two-year project — named Design4AM — is built on a strong collaboration between Siemens and Sonaca (a specialist in aerospace structures), with financial support from ESA and the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office.
The project will result in a validated process for using Siemens’ AM software to design and produce highly optimised lightweighted structural parts for space applications — such as fittings (structurally bonded to CFRP panel), supports and bipods — that will provide improvements in performance and cost.
Pedro Romero Fernandez, Sonaca general manager (Space BU), said: “This partnership combines the power of a leading additive manufacturing software solution with the expertise of a leading aerospace manufacturer.
“With our deep aerospace knowledge and Siemens’ software technologies, engineers will be able to explore hundreds of design options in a fraction of the normal time, then virtually test them against a variety of physical conditions to arrive at the best design solution for their performance requirements that 3-D print correctly the first time.”
Weight is a particularly critical concern for space applications as, according to industry reports, one pound of payload equates to $10,000 in launch costs.
Additive-manufacturing techniques can be used to lightweight most complex structure in launchers, propulsion systems, satellites and various spacecraft components.
Didier Granville, RTD (research and technological developments) projects manager for Siemens in Liège, said: “Additive manufacturing can help ESA reshape everything for optimal performance at reduced cost, in comparison to traditional manufacturing methods that require multiple steps, tools, and treatments to achieve the desired outcome.
“Working with Sonaca, we will be able to help ESA take advantage of additive manufacturing to deliver high-performance structures capable of withstanding the extreme forces that occur during satellite launches.”