Additive manufacturing (AM; 3D printing) is a fabrication process that builds an object layer-upon-layer and promotes the use of structures that would not be possible via subtractive machining. Prototype AM metal mirrors are increasingly being studied in order to exploit the advantage of the broad AM design-space to develop intricate lightweight structures that are more optimised for function than traditional open-back mirror lightweighting.
This paper describes a UK Space Agency funded project to design and manufacture a series of lightweighted AM mirrors to fit within a 3U CubeSat chassis. Six AM mirrors of identical design will be presented: two in aluminium (AlSi<sub>10</sub>Mg), two in nickel phosphorous (NiP) coated AlSi<sub>10</sub>Mg, and two in titanium (Ti64). For each material mirror pair, one is hand-polished and the other is diamond turned. Metrology data, surface form error and surface roughness, will be presented to compare and contrast the different materials and post-processing methods. To assess the presence of porosity, a frequent concern for AM materials, X-ray computed tomography measurements will be presented to highlight the location and density of pores within the mirror substrates; methods to mitigate the distribution of pores near the optical surface will be described. As a metric for success the AlSi<sub>10</sub>Mg + NiP and AlSi<sub>10</sub>Mg mirrors should be suitable for visible and infrared applications respectively.
Design for additive manufacture (AM; 3D printing) is significantly different than design for subtractive machining. Although there are some limitations on the designs that can be printed, the increase in the AM design-space removes some of the existing challenges faced by the traditional lightweight mirror designs; for example, sandwich mirrors are just as easy to fabricate as open-back mirrors via AM, and they provide an improvement in structural rigidity. However, the ability to print a sandwich mirror as a single component does come with extra considerations; such as orientation upon the build plate and access to remove any temporary support material. This paper describes the iterations in optimisation applied to the lightweighting of a small, 84mm diameter by 20mm height, spherical concave mirror intended for CubeSat applications. The initial design, which was fabricated, is discussed in terms of the internal lightweighting design and the design constraints that were imposed by printing and post-processing. Iterations on the initial design are presented; these include the use of topology optimisation to minimise the total internal strain energy during mirror polishing and the use of lattices combined with thickness variation i.e. having a thicker lattice in strategic support locations. To assess the suitability of each design, finite element analysis is presented to quantify the print-through of the lightweighting upon the optical surface for a given mass reduction.