Sciaky’s EBAM Process Qualified for Satellite Fuel Tanks

The 46-in. titanium fuel tank domes, produced with Sciaky's metal 3D printing technology by Lockheed Martin Space, will be the largest additively manufactured parts in space.

Sciaky, a subsidiary of Phillips Service Industries (PSI) and provider of metal additive manufacturing (AM) solutions, has achieved qualification with its Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) process, stemming from the completion of qualification testing performed by Lockheed Martin Space on a multi-year development program to create giant, high-pressure tanks, which carry fuel for satellites.

Lockheed Martin, which 3D printed both halves of the 46-in. titanium fuel tank domes on an American-made Sciaky EBAM 110 machine, reported that the tanks met or exceeded the performance and reliability required by NASA, allowing it to become a standard product option on LM 2100 satellites.

Lockheed Martin engineers went to great lengths to ensure the tanks would meet NASA's stringent requirements. In the end, the testing was a great success, according to the companies.

Additionally, Lockheed Martin reduced production time of the fuel tank domes by 87% while reducing delivery time from two years to three months. Furthermore, with traditional manufacturing techniques, 80% of the expensive titanium material was wasted. However, with Sciaky's EBAM 3D printing process, material waste is a nonfactor and the titanium used for printing is readily available, with no wait time.

“Sciaky's EBAM technology is now the world's only large-scale metal 3D printing process that has qualified applications for land, sea, air, and space,” says Scott Phillips, president and CEO of Sciaky, Inc. “We are delighted to work with the innovators at Lockheed Martin Space and will continue to push the boundaries of additive manufacturing.”

Sciaky's EBAM systems can produce parts ranging from 8 in. (203 mm) to 19 ft. (5.79 m) in length. EBAM is also a fast deposition process in the metal additive manufacturing market, with gross deposition rates ranging from 7 to 25 lbs. (3.18 to 11.34 kg) of metal per hour. EBAM features IRISS, — an Interlayer Real-time Imaging and Sensing System, which is a real-time adaptive control system in the metal 3D printing market that can sense and digitally self-adjust metal deposition with precision and repeatability. This closed-loop control helps Sciaky's EBAM 3D printing process deliver consistent part geometry, mechanical properties, microstructure and metal chemistry, Sciaky reports.

Sources: Press materials received from the company.


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