When the U.S. Air Force’s sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-6) satellite launches into space, a 3-D printed part will be along for the ride. A Remote Interface Unit, an aluminum electronic enclosure designed to hold avionic circuits, will be the first 3-D printed part certified for use on a Lockheed Martin military satellite.
AEHF is a global military satellite communications system that provides protected, assured communication for strategic commanders and tactical warfighters. Lockheed Martin will deliver the fourth AEHF vehicle in 2017. AEHF-5 and AEHF-6 are in production and are on track to launch in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
The qualified part onboard AEHF-6 was built using a process called Laser Powder Bed Fusion additive manufacturing. The electronic enclosure will serve as a model for use on other programs that are designed using the A2100 satellite bus.
Across Lockheed Martin, 3-D printing is used for design prototyping, tooling and the production of affordable components.