This paper illustrates an effective application of rapid prototyping (RP) to produce a high definition polymer model of a satellite structure prior to final machining of the aluminum panels. The benefits when using this type of model in the design and assembly stages of satellite fabrication make clear that RP can and should play an important role in the design and fabrication of small satellite structures.
Selective laser sintering was utilized to produce a full‐scale model of a novel modular small satellite structure. This model was then used as a tool for quality control, fit check, assembly process verification, mock‐up, and as a model for manufacturing tooling design.
This case study illustrates that the use of RP to create a model early in the design cycle is beneficial from a cost and time perspective even when applied to a product which will be produced in a quantity of one. In addition, the merits of RP mesh well with modular designs and for applications where assembly and test tooling is required to validate the quality of a product.
This paper illustrates an effective use of RP in the satellite fabrication industry. The benefits described are generally applicable to other complex systems which need design validation early in the design cycle.
There are few examples of the effective application of RP to produce models, but not the final product, of a complex structure in the satellite and other industries where small lot production occurs.
Quincieu, J., Robinson, C., Stucker, B. and Mosher, T. (2005), "Case study: selective laser sintering of the USUSat II small satellite structure", Assembly Automation, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 267-272. https://doi.org/10.1108/01445150510626389Download as .RIS
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