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Oerlikon AM To Supply 3D-printed Parts For Ariane 6 Rocket

Oerlikon AM to supply 3D-printed parts for Ariane 6 rocket

Oerlikon AM to supply 3D-printed parts for Ariane 6 rocket

Additive manufacturing specialist Oerlikon AM has signed a potential €900,000 contract to supply ArianeGroup with 3D-printed heat exchanger sets for Europe’s Ariane 6 rocket launcher. Under terms of the deal, Oerlikon AM will use additive manufacturing to supply the aluminium heat exchangers for onboard equipment, supporting the performance and flexibility of the new launcher. Ariane 6 is expected to play a key role in Europe’s space activities, including scientific exploration, Earth observation, telecommunications, and national security. Hendrik Alfter, Managing Director of Oerlikon AM, described the order as an important milestone as the company expands its position as a partner for serial parts in the space industry. “These products are already part of our product portfolio, taking us an important step further on our way to supplying the industry with flight-critical class one parts in the very short term.” Oerlikon AM worked very closely with the Ariane 6 technical team to ensure the heat management solution meets the most stringent technical specifications. After its initial launch, Ariane 6 will take-off several times per year into various orbits, including low Earth orbit, geostationary transfer orbit and sun-synchronous orbit. Thus, the heat exchanger sets were explicitly designed for serial production. Oerlikon AM will support ArianeGroup to meet production requirements over the coming years, based on the forecasted demand for the rocket. Addititive manufacturing The process of additive manufacturing has been around since the 1980s but is still relatively little utilised, given its enormous potential. However, it is being using increasingly in healthcare, aerospace, and lots of bespoke engineering contexts, because it can produce high-quality, complex parts – and, crucially, is even now reshoring some manufacture that previously relied on international supply chains. AM is also of interest because of its use of industrial gases. To deliver to the standards required in precision engineering, argon, nitrogen and sometimes helium are commonly used in AM to provide inert atmospheres. The gases are introduced into an enclosed chamber that creates the object by building it one layer at a time. The process is the opposite to subtractive manufacturing, where you start with a piece of material and remove what isn’t needed. Is the future AM? A look at additive manufacturing At a time when the world is being hit by rising costs and strained supply chains, working smarter in business has never been more important. One way that manufacturing and engineering companies can do this, in this era of digitization, robotics and more, is to consider whether additive manufacturing – AM, for short – could work as a production method. It is an opportunity that the US government promoted in May 2022 with its AM Forward initiative, which set out AM’s capability to reduce lead times and build more domestic inventory into supply chains. AM’s advantage is that it increases the speed and flexibility of production, which has the potential to allow firms to respond more quickly to supply disruptions. The vision here is that 3D printed parts can be made in the US and delivered quickly – typically within hours or days. Parts made through AM also have the potential to be more complex and to work harder, reducing the number of parts needed overall on a given device or project. Continue reading here.

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Daisie Hobson

Daisie Hobson is a Director at the Reshoring Institute and an engineer with many years of experience in manufacturing and project management.

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