Next-generation aluminium alloys for 3D-printing affordable satellites

Next-generation aluminium alloys for 3D-printing affordable satellites

Additive manufacturing (AM) is leading a paradigm change across several industries. However, the alloys used today for AM are inherited from conventional manufacturing. As a result, costly process chains are applied to adapt the materials to the foreseen applications.

Constellium is developing Al alloys that exploit the metallurgical conditions of AM aiming at producing materials with enhanced mechanical performance. In parallel, the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) is developing AM process chains for cost-efficient satellite components with improved functionality. While Constellium’s activities fit DLR’s strategy, the application of new alloys to space components requires a deep understanding of the interplays between microstructure, geometry of the part and mechanical behaviour.

3D characterization of the new alloys is vital since their performance is given by the 3D shape and distribution of precipitates of a few nm up to 500 nm embedded in an Al-matrix. These studies can only be done in a joint effort with the team of ID16A.

The aim of the project is to reveal the correlations between composition, microstructure, processing and component geometry. The main technique applied is near-field ptychographic tomography. Exploiting the new EBS source, tomography is optimized for improved through-put. In a longer term, we intend to fly the satellite part in a DLR mission.


ESRF logo with baseline            Constellium logo       



Deepak Mani is working on the next-generation aluminium alloys for 3D-printing affordable satellites project. This project sees collaboration between the ESRF, Constellium and the German Aerospace Centre.