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March 13th, 2018

RUAG Space Receives Innovation Award for Advanced Design Based on Additive Manufacturing

RUAG Space has partnered with the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) in the development of a new design for the rotor of a Slip Ring Assembly for space applications.

RUAG Space received an innovation award for advanced design based on Additive Manufacturing. Photo is courtesy of Christoph Arnet.

The project received the Innovation Award 2018 at the Additive Manufacturing Expo in Lucerne, Switzerland, last week — that gathering is the premier national event for 3D printing technology developments. The design is based on Additive Manufacturing technology and offers reduction of cost and mass while increasing reliability.

This award honors the current and most exciting developments in Additive Manufacturing in Switzerland, with an impact beyond the country.

Redesigned rotor of Slip Ring Assembly
In this cooperation, the aim was to redesign the rotor of a Slip Ring Assembly (SRA) in order to enable a production with less cost and less mass. Slip rings are used in space and non-space industry to transfer electrical signals from a rotating part to a stationary part of a device. On satellites, for instance, slip rings are employed in solar array drive mechanisms, antenna pointing mechanisms or momentum gyroscopes.

Lighter, quicker, cheaper
Compared to conventional processes, Additive Manufacturing (3D printing) offers a host of benefits — producing metal or plastic components that are lighter, take less time to manufacture and are ultimately cheaper to produce.

Peter Guggenbach, the CEO at RUAG Space, explained that weight reduction is a decisive factor in the space industry, as the lighter a satellite is, the less it costs to send it into space.

Expected cost reduction at 40 percent
Apart from reducing manufacturing and assembly costs, CSEM and RUAG Space focused on increasing the reliability and repeatability of the end product. This was done by avoiding the use of cables, which are ordinarily used in SRA design. A preliminary analysis places the expected cost reduction at 40 percent