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Investment Casting to Start for Satellite Parts

May 21, 2019
New Beralcast application passes first-article qualification for IBC

Investment caster IBC Engineered Materials, Wilmington, MA, launched commercial production of Beralcast® 363 beryllium-aluminum alloy castings for an unnamed manufacturer of commercial satellite systems, having completed the customer’s First Article Qualification.

“These components presented an exciting engineering challenge, because competing processes and materials were not able to cost-effectively meet the performance characteristics needed in these very demanding applications,” noted Ben Rampulla, president of Engineered Materials. “The material properties of Beralcast® 363, combined with IBC’s ability to cast complex geometries, offers tremendous potential to IBC and to the satellite industry.”

IBC Engineered Materials was developed in 2011 to manufacture investment cast parts in proprietary beryllium-aluminum alloys, licensed by parent company IBC Advanced Alloys as Beralcast.

Beryllium is an element characterized by its light weight and exceptionally high stiffness.  The most notable applications to date for beryllium-aluminum alloy castings involve critical parts produced for Lockheed Martin as part of the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jet program.

Other applications have developed for structural parts of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) and in assembly equipment for semiconductors and electronics devices.

After investment casting the Beralcast satellite parts will be finish machined and undergo final testing before assembly in a subsystem, for integration into the satellites prior to launch. 

The initial production is expected to ramp up over time, according to the producer, and multiple cast parts may be installed in a single satellite.

“This is a very important step toward commercial-scale production of precision beryllium alloy parts for the satellite industry,” according IBC Advanced Alloys chairman Mark Smith. “IBC looks forward to ramping up production of these and other units to meet the unique needs of this customer, and to expanding our reach into the global satellite industry for IBC’s investment cast beryllium-aluminum alloy components.”