Ka-Band Microwave Rotary Joint

Link Microtek (Hampshire, UK) has produced a spaceflight-qualified microwave rotary joint and associated waveguide components as part of a Kaband antenna pointing mechanism (APM). Destined for use on low-Earth-orbit satellites, the Kaband APM will enable the maximum amount of high-data-rate information, such as high-resolution images or video, to be transmitted to a ground station as the satellite traverses the sky. Within the APM, the rotary joint performs the critical function of feeding the RF carrier signal from the static side of the antenna to the rotating side.

Each rotary joint is of single-channel, non-contacting design covering the frequency band 25.5 to 27.0 GHz. Also made from aluminium, the rotary joints feature a WR34 waveguide interface on both ends and a bespoke flange design. The measured RF performance is impressive, with a very low maximum insertion loss of 0.29dB, a maximum insertion loss WOW of 0.12, maximum VSWR of 1.28:1 and maximum VSWR WOW of 0.13.

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Additive Manufacturing Materials

PEEK polymer pioneer Victrex (Thornton Cleveleys, UK) is preparing newly developed materials for additive manufacturing (AM). The first of these is a high strength material for laser sintering (LS) which attains lower refresh rates, resulting in improved recycling for unsintered powder. The second is a filament with better Z-strength than existing polyaryletherketone (PAEK) materials and better printability for filament fusion (FF).

The PAEK incumbent materials on the market today, although used in some AM applications, were designed for conventional manufacturing methods, such as machining and injection molding. Because of this, they have features that aren’t optimal for additive manufacturing processes. A first generation of PAEK material for laser sintering can only be recycled in a very low extent and required nearly full refresh of the printing bed with new powder, and PEEK filaments available for FF have poor interlayer bonding, leading to a loss in Z-strength. The new polymer grades developed by Victrex have shown encouragingly low refresh rates (improves recycle for unsintered powder) with similar mechanical properties in LS, and in FF good mechanical properties and printability.

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75-Ton Hot Forming Press

Beckwood Press Company (St. Louis, MO) a manufacturer of custom hydraulic presses, automation systems, and the Triform line of precision forming equipment, has partnered with aerospace parts supplier Cutting Dynamics to design and manufacture a 75-ton hydraulic press used to hot form titanium structural components. Capable of temperatures up to 1600°F, the custom press uses electric cartridge heaters to provide even temperature distribution throughout the forming process, increasing the malleability of titanium and reducing springback.

Utilizing nine zones of heat control in each platen, operators can maintain a constant platen temperature to within +/-5°F throughout the cycle. Additionally, automatic insulated door systems increase heat efficiency and maintain the desired temperature set points while facilitating easy part and tool loading. This press also has capabilities for superplastic forming (SPF). Using a die infused with high-temperature argon gas, SPF presses are able to form high-strength materials into complex geometric shapes in a single operation.

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Linear Motion Drive

The Precision Motion Drive System from Amacoil/Uhing (Aston, PA) is a Uhing Model RG rolling ring linear drive integrated with a motion controller for precision linear motion applications. The Precision Motion Drive is fully programmable and meets application requirements for precision winding/spooling, pick-and-place machines, X-Y coordinate tool movement, metrology equipment and other machinery providing fast, accurate positioning and reciprocating linear motion. Depending on the size of the RG drive nut in the system, the Precision Motion Drive System provides from 7 to 800 pounds of axial thrust.

A stepper motor controlled by a Siemens S7 PLC is included in the package. Fast, simple operation is enhanced with intuitive prompts displayed on a touch screen control panel. The shaft on which the Precision Motion Drive runs is smooth case hardened steel. There are no threads, which makes the system useful in applications where particulate contaminants could fall into threads causing jams or clogs. The shaft rotates in one direction only making it unnecessary to purchase a reversible motor. Drive nut travel direction, linear pitch and other motion parameters are controlled by the angle of the rolling ring bearings inside the drive unit, which in turn is controlled by user programming.

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