Manufacturing example: Satellite bracket Star Tracker

Satellitenhalterung „Star Tracker“ A1

Because every gram weighs in

Turkish Aerospace is determined to significantly reduce the weight of structural components as part of the development of the TÜRKSAT 6A geostationary satellite. One of these structural elements is the so-called “Star Tracker“ bracket, which carries an optical measuring device that continuously records the satellite's position in relation to the constellation of stars and calculates its exact position in orbit.

The main components of the star tracker bracket were previously milled conventionally and then bolted together. In total, the bracket consisted of 360 individual parts and weighed 4kg.

Turkish Aerospace's goal was to use additive manufacturing to get a bracket that had to:

  • have at least 30% less weight
  • withstand the relevant acceleration forces during a rocket launch, and
  • meet the relevant aerospace standards and guidelines.

The solution was in the design

The feasibility check performed at project start revealed that the original design of the star tracker mount could not reasonably be manufactured with AM. Topology optimization did not lead to a satisfactory result either, with regard to the goals. So we conceived a completely new design for the bracket as part of an ADM-E project.

To do this, the corresponding forces and frequencies were analyzed that the bracket was not allowed to exceed or fall below. On this basis, FIT experts used CAD software (Fusion and Inventor) to develop a design that featured a thin-walled, hollow shell geometry with internal bracing. This design was optimized by means of simulation and iteration (Optistract) so that it withstood the various load cases with high acceleration forces without falling below the defined natural frequencies.

The major advantage of this design was not only the high stability of the bracket combined with its low weight, but also its simplicity as it can be manufactured in one piece.

Qualified single-part manufacturing (ADM-Q)

Qualified single-part manufacturing (ADM-Q)

Laser melting (PBF-LB/M) was used for the additive manufacturing of the star tracker bracket made of aluminum (AlSi10Mg). The 3D model was aligned at the optimum angle in the build space of the machine under cost and quality aspects and oriented with the required support structures to prevent distortion. The construction process, which took several days, was continuously monitored. Appropriate tensile specimens and density cubes were built to assess component quality. After support removal, the bracket was blasted to homogenize the surface. Finally, the connecting surfaces to the satellite and the optical unit were CNC-milled to ensure the required precision.

Quality tests passed

To prove component quality, the star tracker mount underwent various measurement and testing procedures in our quality labs, in particular, a micro ct scan after blasting and a 3D optical scan after CNC milling. In addition, other quality tests relevant to production, such as the measurement and control of tensile specimens and density cubes, were carried out so that the product could be delivered with the complete process and quality assurance documentation. Traceability requirements were also fully met. At Turkish Aerospace, the satellite bracket also successfully passed the test stations and is hence qualified as a fully developed space component for flight.

Satellitenhalterung „Star Tracker“ GOM2

The special process requirements

The special challenge in the project was to develop a geometry that is both lightweight and extremely stable. The newly developed design and additive manufacturing of the bracket made this possible. Turkish Aerospace benefited from the following results:

  • weight reduction of more than 50% to 1.96kg
  • complexity reduction from 360 parts to one single part
  • successful testing of the mount with acceleration forces of 20 G in all directions
  • compliance with European standards and directives for the aerospace industry

Turkish Aerospace was won over by FIT's combination of industry understanding, design, and manufacturing expertise, as well as the extensive in-house quality assurance capabilities. You too can benefit from our range of services.

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Steps to your qualified end-use part

Our services



Feasibility check
We check the suitability of your component for additive manufacturing, develop recommendations and/or suggestions for possible adaptations.
You get recommendations for action for production-related design adjustments as well as an estimate of the minimum possible manufacturing costs.
Feasibility study
We analyze the component requirements, identify the manufacturing critical elements of the design, develop a valid manufacturing process and prepare a feasibility report.
You receive a production plan for your component, a rough estimate of the manufacturing costs and a cost breakdown for the next project steps.
Design adaptation
We make corrections to your design that are necessary for production.

If necessary, we will develop a new design for you as part of an ADM-D project.
You receive a report on the design changes as well as their impact and a concrete offer for the component production with the final manufacturing costs.
Qualified single-part manufacturing (ADM-Q)
We produce your component from the required material using the selected additive manufacturing process (including the requested post-processing), pack the component securely for transport and send it to the specified address.
Your component is finished and ready for use.
Quality assurance during the process
If required, we carry out the necessary quality assurance steps before, during and after production.
You are handed out the corresponding quality certificates from each production phase.

Technical facts about the satellite bracket Star Tracker

FIT solution:ADM-Q
Scope of services:Design development and simulation
Additive manufacturing and post-processing
Full process documentation
QA documentation (material test certificates, material certificates, measurement reports)
Packaging and shipping
Delivery time:30 working days (after data release)
Part dimensions:760 x 200 x 200 mm
Part weight:1.96kg
Lot size:1
Material:Aluminum alloy (AlSi10Mg)
Technology:Laser melting (PBF-LB/M)
CNC milling
Quality control:Micro ct scan after blasting
Optical 3D scan after CNC milling

Learn more here!



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