Metal additive manufacturing company, Sciaky, Inc., a subsidiary of Phillips Service Industries, Inc. (PSI) has announced that aerospace giant Lockheed Martin Space Systems has successfully reduced production time, cost and material consumption for its titanium propellant tanks for satellites with its Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing technology.
The two companies began a materials R&D initiative in September 2012 to investigate the performance of Ti-6Al-4V (titanium) with its satellite propellant tank. Over many months of testing, the metallurgical experts at Lockheed and Sciaky were able to identify a solution that would drastically reduce part production time, waste and costs compared to the traditional forging method.
"When our Space Systems business area was looking for ways to reduce costs on our satellite parts, while also maintaining product quality, a company called Sciaky came to us with a solution," Marilyn A. Hewson, Chairman, President and CEO of Lockheed Martin, at the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) Supplier Management Council Summer Meeting on June 14, 2016 in Fort Worth, TX. "We worked together to develop titanium propellant tanks that can be 3D printed through the use of their electron beam additive manufacturing process. The result was a tank that met our customer's performance standards, with an 80 percent reduction in the amount of time needed to manufacture it, a 75 percent reduction in waste, and a 55 percent reduction in cost."
Sciaky’s systems boast the most scalable work envelope in the metal 3D printing industry and can produce parts ranging from 203 mm to 5.79 meters in length, but can also manufacture smaller and larger parts, depending on the application. EBAM is also the fastest deposition process in the metal additive manufacturing market, with gross deposition rates ranging from 7 to 20 lbs. (3.18 to 9.07 kg) of metal per hour. With its dual wirefeed option, users can combine two different metal alloys into a single melt pool to create "custom alloy" parts and change the mixture ratio of the two materials to create "graded" parts or structures.