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3D printing of ion optics for electric propulsion

3D printing of ion optics for electric propulsion
3D printing of ion optics for electric propulsion

Additive manufacturing is rapidly opening its way into many areas of the aerospace industry, where different 3D printing technologies are finding niche applications in which they do not only simplify the process and allow shorter lead times, but also the particularities of these new fabrication methods yield new material properties that enhance the component and can lead to higher performance and longer service life of an aerospace system. Although rapid manufacturing processes are being tested for in-space manufacturing and are commonly used to fabricate UAV parts and some spacecraft subsystems with 3D printed components have been tested in space, little research has been conducted on the potential application of these techniques to electric thrusters. This paper presents the study conducted on the application of selective laser melting, a powder bed fusion technology, to the fabrication of ion engine grids and the challenges faced during the process. The first proof of concept and its optimization are described. Later, the development of the selective laser melting process for molybdenum, the study of the 3D printed materials' properties, their direct application to ion extraction systems, and the tests of additively-manufactured ion optics are described. It was found that 3D printed grids can be accurately fabricated with titanium and molybdenum, that they perform similar to conventional optics in short tests, that the selective laser melting process allows certain control of the coefficient of thermal expansion of the output and that this fabrication method allows the reproduction of sputtering erosion patterns. Future research in this direction will cover sputtering tests of selectively-laser-melted samples and the additive manufacturing of carbon-carbon grids.

Additively-manufactured ion optics (AMIO), Electric thruster, Ion engine grids, Ion thruster, Selective laser melting (SLM)
0429-7725
1-12
Guo, Ning
84906e35-5040-4406-aca1-571f88a3d867
Xie, Kan
8114757c-fd90-4e37-82b9-2a392463708b
Sangregorio, Miguel
14a841aa-3942-4613-9c4e-411e65ab001a
Wang, Ningfei
16f17768-9f2d-46e8-a721-b849f0878a0d
Zhang, Zun
c0856f64-3a31-412a-b588-05383e29b453
Gabriel, Stephen B.
ac76976d-74fd-40a0-808d-c9f68a38f259
Guo, Ning
84906e35-5040-4406-aca1-571f88a3d867
Xie, Kan
8114757c-fd90-4e37-82b9-2a392463708b
Sangregorio, Miguel
14a841aa-3942-4613-9c4e-411e65ab001a
Wang, Ningfei
16f17768-9f2d-46e8-a721-b849f0878a0d
Zhang, Zun
c0856f64-3a31-412a-b588-05383e29b453
Gabriel, Stephen B.
ac76976d-74fd-40a0-808d-c9f68a38f259

Guo, Ning, Xie, Kan, Sangregorio, Miguel, Wang, Ningfei, Zhang, Zun and Gabriel, Stephen B. (2019) 3D printing of ion optics for electric propulsion. Frontiers in Physics, 6 (145), 1-12. (doi:10.3389/fphy.2018.00145).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Additive manufacturing is rapidly opening its way into many areas of the aerospace industry, where different 3D printing technologies are finding niche applications in which they do not only simplify the process and allow shorter lead times, but also the particularities of these new fabrication methods yield new material properties that enhance the component and can lead to higher performance and longer service life of an aerospace system. Although rapid manufacturing processes are being tested for in-space manufacturing and are commonly used to fabricate UAV parts and some spacecraft subsystems with 3D printed components have been tested in space, little research has been conducted on the potential application of these techniques to electric thrusters. This paper presents the study conducted on the application of selective laser melting, a powder bed fusion technology, to the fabrication of ion engine grids and the challenges faced during the process. The first proof of concept and its optimization are described. Later, the development of the selective laser melting process for molybdenum, the study of the 3D printed materials' properties, their direct application to ion extraction systems, and the tests of additively-manufactured ion optics are described. It was found that 3D printed grids can be accurately fabricated with titanium and molybdenum, that they perform similar to conventional optics in short tests, that the selective laser melting process allows certain control of the coefficient of thermal expansion of the output and that this fabrication method allows the reproduction of sputtering erosion patterns. Future research in this direction will cover sputtering tests of selectively-laser-melted samples and the additive manufacturing of carbon-carbon grids.

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fphy-06-00145 - Version of Record
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 3 December 2018
Published date: 14 January 2019
Keywords: Additively-manufactured ion optics (AMIO), Electric thruster, Ion engine grids, Ion thruster, Selective laser melting (SLM)

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 427880
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/427880
ISSN: 0429-7725
PURE UUID: 24f8cca9-388f-43b0-b675-8987b362483c

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 01 Feb 2019 17:30
Last modified: 19 Jul 2019 16:43

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Contributors

Author: Ning Guo
Author: Kan Xie
Author: Miguel Sangregorio
Author: Ningfei Wang
Author: Zun Zhang
Author: Stephen B. Gabriel

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