Lockheed Martin has used a three-dimensional printing system to create a remote interface unit for integration onto a military communications satellite built for the U.S. Air Force.
The company said Tuesday it developed the 3D-printed aluminum enclosure to hold avionic circuits on the military branch’s sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite and reduce the amount of time required for the design and production cycle of AEHF.
Lockheed noted that the certified structure was built through Laser Powder Bed Fusion, an additive manufacturing process that uses a laser to melt and fuse aluminum metal powder into layers that form the digital design.
AEHF satellites are designed to help strategic commanders and tactical warfighters secure communications when they conduct missions.
Iris Bombelyn, vice president of protected communications at Lockheed's space systems business, said 3D printing technologies help the company manage its production cycle from the design phase through implementation.
Lockheed aims to cut the time it takes for the company to manufacture a component from six months to approximately 1.5 months as well as decrease the assembly time from 12 hours to three hours through additive manufacturing.