Sciaky Inc. has achieved qualification for 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. The 46-inch titanium fuel tank domes will become the largest additively manufactured parts in space.
Lockheed Martin, which 3D-printed both halves of the 46-inch titanium fuel tank domes on an American-made Sciaky EBAM 110 machine, announced 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.
Satellite fuel tanks must be both strong and lightweight to withstand the rigors of launch and decade-long missions in the vacuum of space. Even the smallest leak or flaw could be catastrophic for a satellite’s operations, so Lockheed Martin engineers went to great lengths to ensure the tanks would meet NASA’s stringent requirements. In the end, the testing was an overwhelming success.
To top it off, 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 the 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,” said Scott Phillips, President and CEO of Sciaky. “We are delighted to work with the innovators at Lockheed Martin Space and will continue to push the boundaries of additive manufacturing.”
As the most widely scalable metal additive manufacturing solution in the industry (in terms of work envelope), these EBAM systems can produce parts ranging from 8-in. (203 mm) to 19 feet (5.79 meters) in length. EBAM is also the fastest deposition process in the metal additive manufacturing market, with gross deposition rates ranging from 7 to 25 lb of metal per hour. EBAM brings quality and control together with IRISS — the Interlayer Real-time Imaging and Sensing System, which is the only 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 innovative closed-loop control is the primary reason that Sciaky’s EBAM 3D printing process delivers consistent part geometry, mechanical properties, microstructure, and metal chemistry.