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Automatic satellite panel manufacuring with new insert

News International-French

11 Mar 2015

JEC Europe 2015 - With a revolutionary new and patent pending insert Ruag Space has been able to automate the process of insert placement into composite sandwich panels for satellites.

As a result manufacturing time and costs has been reduced significantly. Apart from the above, the new process requires less potting compound to glue the insert into the panel resulting in less launch mass.

In the design of spacecraft structures weight and stiffness are critical design parameters and as a result composite sandwich panels are often used. In one complex satellite sandwich panel more than 800 inserts (to mount equipment) can be found. A typical communication satellite has more than 2500 inserts. Up until now the space industry has been using manual processes to place these inserts.

Ruag’s breakthrough innovation involves the insert itself, the process and a newly developed machine called the Ruag Automated Potting Machine (APM). The machine shapes the panel, drills the insert holes, applies the adhesive to the insert, places the insert into the panel and produces a final test report summarising the relevant process parameters for each single insert. These activities were previously all done in individual steps on different machines in different locations involving a high amount of manual labour.