(NFV Zone, 4/4/17)
When the U.S. Air Force’s sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-6) satellite launches into space, a 3-D printed part will be along for the ride. A Remote Interface Unit, an aluminum electronic enclosure designed to hold avionic circuits, will be the first 3-D printed part certified for use on a Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) military satellite.
By going from multiple machined parts to one 3-D printed part, the team was able to save time in the design and production cycle, as well as increase the quality and consistency of the units. The lead time for manufacturing the part went from six months to only 1.5 months, with assembly time also being reduced from 12 hours to just three hours.
“3-D printing provides the ability to rapidly implement innovation by controlling production from design through implementation with one digital model,” said Iris Bombelyn, vice president of Protected Communications at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. “By providing affordable, innovative solutions for our customers with a reduced timeline, we are able to adjust to the rapidly changing environment of military space.”