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CATEC and EADS CASA-Espacio launch a project to develop new manufacturing technologies for space components


September 30th 2013

The project, called ALM, is part of the Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP) of the European Space Agency (ESA) on new technologies for next-generation space launchers


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CATEC and EADS CASA-Espacio launch a project to develop new manufacturing technologies for space components
CATEC and EADS CASA-Espacio, company of Astrium group, have launched a new European project called ALM intended to improve the maturity level of additive manufacturing technology (Additive Layer Manufacturing or Rapid Manufacturing) for the production of pieces and metal parts for the Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP) of the European Space Agency (ESA).

The materials and manufacturing processes play a key role in improving the reliability and the reduction of costs of the new generation of space launchers. ALM technology is based on the manufacture of components in layers, so that the objects are created by a 3D CAD model, which is sectioned into thin layers using a laser system which melts and binds the metal in powder form. All this without doing any machining work during the manufacturing process, which provides significant advantages compared to other conventional machining processes, such as the possibility of making impossible geometries through other methods.

The ALM project has five major objectives: to make a detailed state of the art technology in terms of manufacturing possibilities, accuracy, mechanical properties, etc.; to identify potential components into current space shuttles for the manufacturing of components with structural requirements; to achieve the level of maturation of the technology through a manufacturing and testing plan facing the objectives of the ESA for 2016; to develop and produce technological demonstrators to evaluate the feasibility of the manufacture of space shuttles components through ALM; and to evaluate the benefits or disadvantages of using this technology, with the materials available and the potential applications in future launchers and the new generation of space hardware.

The initiative was launched last April and will be developed along the next 18 months. The project team is coordinated by Jorge Vilanova (EADS CASA-Espacio) and Fernando Lasagni (CATEC), technical directors of the project. By CATEC also participate Amadis Zorrilla (attached to the technical manager) and Antonio Periñán and Santos Tudela, mainly responsibles for the manufacturing activities and non-destructive testing and mechanical characterization of prototypes. By EADS CASA-Espacio, also participate Pilar Romera (attached to technical manager), J.A. Butragueño, J. Pascual, A. Ayuso and J. Rivas, who are mainly responsible for the technical issues related to components’ specifications and design, and testing. The team is completed by Andreas Tesch, technical manager of the project by the European Space Agency.



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