French Space Agency spin-out Anywaves has harnessed 3DCERAM’s 3D printing services to design a new ceramic antenna for small satellites.

Working with 3DCERAM’s 3D-Aim consultancy service over an 18-month period, the space company has developed the GNSS L1/ E1 Band antenna that uses Zirconia material and boasts a lattice structure to achieve the ‘best radiofrequency performances.’ Anywaves is now deciding how best to move forward into production of the component.

Working with 3D-Aim, Anywaves has carried out a three-step process that has taken them from a blank piece of paper to now being ready to enter into parts production. The 18-month process started with a risk analysis, which sought to ascertain the technical and economical requirements of Anywaves’ antenna, as well as the chances of failure during the printing, cleaning, debinding and sintering processes by analysing the customer’s CAD file. Here, 3D-Aim printed several benchmark parts with a range of lattice structures to understand the best way of manufacturing the final part.

The companies then looked closer at the CAD file, modifying it to integrate the results of the first phase of the process to enhance mechanical tolerances, material quality control and more. In this second stage, the partners also focused on part orientation, factoring in the impact on accuracy of the print, print time and cost, as well as considering scale factor to ensure the component is printed in the desired dimensions and finished with the required surface finish. With iterations of the design printed and firing tests carried out in order to ‘mature’ the design, the CAD file was eventually declared ready for production.

With excellent radiation characteristics, Anywaves says the resulting antenna can withstand harsh environments without thermal protection thanks to ‘material selection and solder less feed system.’ Anywaves’ next step is to head into series production of the antenna, either via 3DCERAM’s service offering or by investing in a 3DCERAM printer and bringing the technology in-house.

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