The main objectives of the activity are:
A comparison of the performances of the two reflectors (one manufactured with standard technology, the second manufactured with new technology) gave the possibility to evaluate the new mould
The extreme accuracy requested for Ku Band mission lead to a technology employing low CTE materials, tipically isostatic graphite.
Extruded graphite has properties that are similar to isostatic graphite, but with a lower cost of basic material. The coarse graphite as the best choice for achieving high performances reflector even using a cheaper material for mould. In this respect it represents the best rate between cost and quality as far as the main characteristics of graphite mould are still maintained (low CTE, stability, strength, machinability etc) even in presence of a drastic cost reduction.
From a cost point of view, based on experience the cost of a graphite mould is as follows:
The percentage of the cost related to mould manufacturing phases doesn’t vary, while up to 50 % of the actual cost can be drastically reduced, up to 50%.
A first step of activities consisted of the description of the actual status of mould technology and reflector manufacturing technology.
An antenna manufactured using traditional technologies was selected to be a reference for performances comparison.
An exhaustive state-of-the-art study concerning the moulding technology was prepared to provide a panoramic view of possible technologies.
A specification for mould procurement was prepared.
The design phase went through preliminary and refined analyses up to the delivery of mould manufacturing documentation.
The mould was manufactured and tested
The new mould technology can be used for reflector manufacturing provided that care is used for release agent selection and application.