Swerim i rymdforskningens tjänst

Vartenda gram räknas under en rymdfärd. Ett enskilt gram i minskad vikt handlar om enorma vinster. Nu har metallforskningsinstitutet Swerim bidragit till kunskap om hur framtida rymdfärder ska kunna ha lättare komponenter ombord, genom additiv tillverkning. 

Photo: ESA Scandinavia

The European Space Agency (ESA) has sought expertise concerning metal powder for additive manufacturing of space components. Together with its British counterpart MTC (Manufacturing Technology Centre) and the Swedish Space Corporation Swerim, has been tasked with researching the possibilities of using aluminium powder for 3D printing of space components. Project manager Irma Heikkilä has coordinated the project for Swerim. 

“This is a large project that was started in 2019. Among other studies, we have carefully assessed 600 3D-printed components, focusing specifically on alloys. One example is the mirrors that send signals from a satellite to Earth. We have shown how various designs and manufacturing methods can work in practice.” 

Swedish astronaut Markus Wandt's space mission has attracted much public interest in space and current space research. This has helped to create a general understanding of the importance of weight during a space mission. The recently concluded research project has demonstrated how lighter objects can be made via additive manufacturing than be means of conventional manufacturing. 

“In our research, where we have carefully studied which powders and manufacturing methods are of most interest, we have assessed both the mechanical properties and the geometric specifications of objects. ESA now has better basis for ordering components,” says Irma Heikkilä, who also notes that this has been the most demanding research project she has ever coordinated.

“Understandably, the space industry has extremely high demands. For that reason, we have had to test the limits for what can be manufactured and delivered. At the same time it has been incredibly interesting and stimulating to gain an insight into the space industry. Above all, we are very pleased that ESA is satisfied with the work we have done at Swerim”. 

Photo: ©ESA. The Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) crew lifts off to the International Space Station atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from launchpad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, 2024. 

Photo: ©ESA. Scandinavian Peninsula