AM for satellites: Reaction Wheel Bracket

Main aim of the study was to determine whether direct manufacturing of structure elements for satellites is feasible. High complex mission-customized parts with a high buy-to-fly ratio had to be examined to show the potential for reducing weight, waste, cost and time during production and use.

(Kopie 1)

After a profound analysis of many satellite parts a huge bracket was chosen. It is used four times per satellite for holding a mechanism where a mass is set into rotation to use the moment of inertia for adjusting satellites orientation in space without using propellant. As a computer-aided geometry creation topology optimization was used in a multi-step optimization procedure. For the retransition of calculation results a voxel-based approach is used to cover the high complex geometries with biologic seeming shapes.

During the study a new highly time efficient semiautomatic voxel-based methodology for geometry retransition of topology optimization results was found. This enables a fast and stress optimal design. Furthermore the product related key figures show the remarkable potential of additive manufacturing for huge structural parts, even with regard to costs:

  • Weight reduction: - 60 % (1100g -> 450g)
  • Waste reduction: - 98 % (56kg -> 0.8kg)
  • Cost reduction: - 53 % (8000€ -> 3800€)
  • Time reduction: - 32 % (59h -> 40h)
  • Max. Displacement: - 37 %
  • 1st Eigen frequency: + 20 %

The Reaction Wheel Bracket was used as a sample part in the Project NewStructure, funded by the European Space Agency (ESA).


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Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rainer Koch

Computeranwendung und Integration in Konstruktion und Planung (bis 2022)

Write email +49 5251 60-2258