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April 4th, 2018

MT Aerospace has Shipped the First Ariane 6 Tank

MT Aerospace has delivered the first component for the upper stage for the future European launch vehicle Ariane 6 to the ArianeGroup’s new production center in Bremen — fabricated in Augsburg using the latest equipment and optimized processes, the tank floors and cylinder panels were assembled by MT Aerospace in Bremen to form a propellant tank.

Industry 4.0 applications have been installed for the production of the Ariane 6 components. In this connection, a new hall has been built and an existing one converted in Augsburg. State-of-the-art welding systems, machine-to-machine communications (“Internet of Things”) as well as drilling and riveting robots ensure more efficient and therefore cheaper production processes.

MT Aerospace has delivered the first hydrogen tank for the Ariane 6 upper stage to the ArianeGroup.
Photo is courtesy of MT Aerospace AG.

MT Aerospace is playing a crucial role in the development and industrialization of the Ariane 6 launcher system. With an industrial contribution of around 10 percent, MT Aerospace is developing technical innovations for metal structures for enhancing the competitiveness of this future launch vehicle in its capacity as a risk share partner and cluster prime for metal structures.

At the heart of these productivity gains and this quantum technological leap is the large FSW system. FSW is short for “friction stir welding.” Installed at the start of 2018, the system is one of a kind anywhere in the world. Hans J. Steininger, the CEO of MT Aerospace AG, reported that, previously, the welding process required about ten minutes, but the preparation required more than three hours. The new machine reduces the preparation time significantly. Moreover, the machine documents the processes and also performs ultrasonic testing of the components. When the parts leave the FSW system, they are finished and tested.

Steininger continued that the company is seeing a technological advance on a scale of 20 or more years and the firm is currently building around 30 tank domes a year for Ariane 5. In the future, this figure will rise to around 90. The onset of the Industry 4.0 era is allowing MT Aerospace to triple productivity. Given the tight schedule, the company is very proud to be able to supply the first component for the new European launch vehicle Ariane 6 in line with plans. MT Aerospace has invested 35 million euros of its own funds as a risk-sharing partner for the development of components for the new Ariane 6.