Opterus R&D employs an AON3D printer and OOA prepregs to build the tooling, prototypes and end-use versions of its foldable CFRP satellite structures.
Founded in 2015, Opterus Research and Development (Loveland, Colo., U.S.) manufactures highly specialized, deployable spacecraft structures — meaning foldable or bendable components such as reflectors for antennas, solar arrays or booms designed for easy attachment and storage to a satellite or launch vehicle.
The company says the key to high-performance, space-ready structures that are also foldable and compact is its work in pioneering high strain composites (HSC), or composite materials tuned to enable a much higher level of deformation and strain than typical stiffness-driven composite materials. Thanks to HSCs, Opterus claims that some of its deployable structures, which can be up to 30 meters, are capable of rolling out up to 100 times their folded, stowed length.
The company offers a full range of services to its customers, from part design through simulation, analysis, tooling development and low-volume manufacture via oven-cured, aerospace-grade prepregs. Over the past few years, Opterus has added composite 3D printing to its capabilities, with the acquisition of an AON M2+ printer from AON3D (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) in 2019.
Today, Opterus says it uses 3D printing throughout its entire product development life cycle, from concept development to end-use composite parts. “When we’re trying to understand how to design and manufacture these architectures, we really do need to develop early proof-of-concept demonstrations and we leverage a test build process to understand how these advanced structures behave in a space domain,” explains Erik Pranckh, the director of business development at Opterus, in a recent case study video released by AON3D.