AEHF-6 satellite to feature 3-D printed part
Lockheed Martin will integrate a 3-D printed part on the US Air Force's (USAF's) sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF 6) satellite, the company announced on 4 April.
The remote interface unit - an aluminium electronic enclosure designed to hold avionic circuits - will be the first 3-D printed part certified for use on a Lockheed Martin military satellite.
The process of 3-D printing allows the team to bring down the lead time for manufacturing the part time from six months to only one and a half months, with assembly time being reduced from 12 hours to just three hours. It also improves quality and consistency of the units.
AEHF is a global military satellite communications system that provides protected, assured communication for commanders and tactical warfighters. Lockheed Martin will deliver the fourth AEHF vehicle this year. AEHF-5 and AEHF-6 are in production and will be launched in 2018 and 2019.
The 3-D printed part for AEHF-6 was designed using a process called laser powder bed fusion, in which a laser melts and fuses aluminium metal powder to build a part based on a digital design.
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