Modelling the integration of Additive Manufacturing technologies in design for space components
Products for space applications are traditionally costly and produced in small batches. Moreover, they must be able to withstand extreme environments and meet tough requirements when in operation, as the ability to maintain and repair them is limited. However, nowadays cost and lead time reduction are becoming important driving forces for space manufacturers. New technologies such as Additive manufacturing (AM) are attractive for space companies as they enable new product functionalities or lower production costs, fostering company capabilities and permanence in the market. However, the lack of knowledge and experience in AM hinders its implementation in highly regulated industries such as the space industry.
In this thesis, a first approach of a model-based Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) design support is presented to facilitate the introduction of AM in components for space applications. The design support aims at redesigning components for AM, taking advantage of AM design freedom but considering AM limitations as well. Moreover, to address the needs of the space industry, relevant design trade-offs of space products, such as weight/cost reduction, component modularity or adaptability to market changes are included in the DfAM design support. The applicability of the design support has been demonstrated in the design of different space products (such as satellite antennas) and in the context of three different Swedish manufacturers of space components. A first validation of the design support and the redesigned space components was performed with industrial practitioners.
The proposed design support was developed for the introduction of a new manufacturing technology in space components. As technologies for space applications advance at a fast pace, future research needs to be performed to adapt the design support to enable the introduction of technologies that are not manufacturing related. Moreover, as product development is often concerned with the introduction of multiple technologies in the same product/product family, the impact of technology interactions in product design is of interest and will be studied further.