Advances in the Development of Missile Telemetry Test Sets: Utilizing 3D Printing for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing
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AbstractFunctionally testing missiles in the All Up Round (AUR), a configuration that consists of a complete system packaged in its flight worthy state, requires the use of test sets along with constituent conformal equipment for interfacing. During developmental testing, telemetry (TM) sections are integrated within an AUR missile. These test sets monitor TM unit performance while maintaining form, fit, and function; therefore, resulting in complete data confidence. Initiating TM functional tests permit a capability in verifying that TM sections have been integrated properly. Safety being a priority, in order to attenuate RF radiation leakage while providing repeatable test capabilities in the near-field, antenna couplers are fabricated as a shielding interface between the user and radiating source and a coupling interface between an AUR missile and the test set. Generally, antenna couplers are composed of metallic bodies which require machine shop fabrication. The process of getting machined parts can take up to several months which can delay delivery schedules. With the availability of 3D printing capabilities and methods in metalizing various materials, a novel approach to fabricating antenna couplers has been explored. The use of modeling Software Packages (Computer Aided Design and Electromagnetic Solvers) and additive printing play key roles in reducing the development cycle time while saving costs, decreasing weight, and sustaining performance. This paper will detail the efforts using 3D printing capabilities in the development and fabrication of an antenna coupler with several examples cited herein.
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