Optisys Taps Into SLM Technology to Make Parts for Space Missions

The SLM 500 is a multi-laser system with up to four 700W lasers working simultaneously.

The SLM 500 is a multi-laser system with up to four 700W lasers working simultaneously.

Optisys X band synthetic aperture radar for Imsar high altitude UAV surveillance product. Image courtesy of Optisys.

Optisys, an advanced turnkey antenna and radar product supplier, uses the SLM 500 from SLM Solutions to manufacture parts used on space missions that include the moon. Though SLM technology offers a number of advantages of particular interest to space companies is that parts can be manufactured using topology optimization to produce light, compact and robust designs, built to withstand the harsh conditions of space.

Optisys is a radiofrequency product development and manufacture company that creates integrated products enabled by metal additive manufacturing. Its customers rely on solutions that include feeds, slotted flat panels and phased arrays for antenna and radar applications used everywhere from sea to outer space.

SLM Solutions Additive Manufacturing System SLM 500. Image courtesy of SLM Solutions.

With the SLM 500, the company now owns a high-tech metal additive manufacturing system; made for producing high-strength metal components.

“We are a company that wouldn't exist without additive manufacturing The SLM 500 gives us exactly what we need, for example, to manufacture antennas used on space missions.” To do this, the components produced must be able to withstand the harsh conditions of the entire range of space environments from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to deep space probes.

“The atomic oxygen in the atmosphere virtually sandblasts the parts,” says Opra. “They also must withstand high heat loads, and extreme temperature cycling, on other planets. The SLM parts are not only lightweight, but they can also manage harsh conditions and are particularly robust with excellent performance.” 

“Additive manufacturing technology ensures we can create the lightest, strongest and best performing RF products available,” continues Opra. “By coupling large aspects of the RF system into single components or repeatable tiles, our customers can reduce weight enormously over competing suppliers. This is of prime importance for many players in the ‘New Space’ market particularly.”

The SLM 500 is a multi-laser system with up to four 700W lasers working simultaneously. It features closed powder handling with automated powder sieving and supply during the build process without any powder contact. The ability to change the build cylinder minimizes machine downtime, maximizes productivity and reduces cost per part, the company says. Due to a smart assembly in the build envelope, Optisys produces several individual components in one build process with the SLM 500.

“This deployment demonstrates how robust the parts produced with SLM technology are,” says Sam O'Leary, CEO of SLM Solutions. “Innovative, top-tier companies such as Optisys continue to drive additive manufacturing forward and bring it to other planets.”

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

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