University of Leicester - SITECH PLM


British team develops next-generation space science instrumentation for the first European rover mission to Mars

Leicester, United Kingdom

Use of NX and Teamcenter enables greater innovation, improved quality and significantly reduced cost


  • Demanding performance, quality and audit requirements
  • Strict cost and agenda constraints
  • Multi-disciplinary collaboration critical


  • Parametric modeling and WAVE-linking for smooth geometry advent
  • Design modifications quick carried out to entire assemblies
  • Accurate simulation of harsh structural and thermal environments, which include dynamic launch loads
  • Accurate toolpaths
  • Synchronous era to simplify and boost up use of statistics from companions
  • Tight manage of the whole design-thru-manufacturing cycle


  • Time from concept to very last product markedly decreased
  • Greater collaboration between disciplines, lowering time spent on redecorate
  • Entire workflow easily audited for first-class guarantee
  • Improved fine practices, ensuing inside the digital removal of downstream mistakes
  • Significantly greater collaboration on industrialization tasks with more than one institutes
  • More revolutionary and fee-effective answers

University of Leicester

Part of the University of Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Space Research Centre, which includes the Space Science and Instrumentation Group and the Earth Observation Science Group, develops scientific instrumentation and systems, working closely with such organizations as NASA and the European Space Agency.

NX is very powerful. NX gives us tools that move seamlessly between the different phases of design and manufacturing, and it integrates the whole cycle.

Mission-critical performance

It costs in excess of $30,000 per kilogram to launch a piece of hardware into space, and there is little opportunity to fix problems once it has left the earth. In order to meet performance criteria, scientists and engineers at the University of Leicester Space Research Centre, (also called Space Research Centre or just Centre for short) rely on software and Teamcenter® software to design, simulate and manufacture to exacting standards.

The Centre has been involved in space research for 50 years, working closely with partners, such as National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency. It develops sensors, telescopes, spectrometers and other scientific instrumentation, and associated mechanical structures, electronics and power generation systems. Its project portfolio includes missions to study the Earth and other planets in our own solar system and beyond, as well as other stars and galaxies in the universe. With extensive facilities, including test laboratories and on-site manufacturing, it also conducts interdisciplinary research in Life Sciences, counterfeit technologies, art history and medicine. Staff and students are using NX and Teamcenter, both from Siemens PLM Software, to underpin the lifecycle of projects, such as the first European rover mission to Mars, due to take place in 2018.

“Sending equipment to space involves an extensive development program,” says Dr. John Pye, who manages the Space Research Centre. “Hardware must not only be proven to perform as required, it must have rigorous traceability and quality control. This all has to be done within strict cost and schedule constraints.”

Fifteen years ago, the mechanical design and analysis team started using NX I-deas, which is an earlier version of what is now NX.

According to Piyal Samara-Ratna, computeraided design (CAD) administrator and mechanical engineer at the Space Research Centre, the group was primarily using 3D modeling tools to develop simple configurations, and then using these for thermal and structural testing. “The majority of detailed design was done purely in 2D and manufacturing was performed using either third-party software or manual tools,” he notes. “This methodology led to repetition of the same information, which carried increased risk of error and was not optimum for performance.”

Transforming design to manufacturing

Having simply completed the transition from I-deas to NX and delivered Teamcenter, the Centre has transformed its workflow. “The NX modeling equipment have eliminated the want to attention at the production of complex 2D drawings. We make vast use of parametric modeling techniques and WAVE-linking to create our geometry. When we alternate dimensions, the whole meeting responds and this permits us to speedy adapt to evolving necessities.”

The Centre runs three four-axis Tryax milling machines and one computer numerical control (CNC) lathe the use of NX CAM. These be given fashions, which come at once from engineers and are controlled with Teamcenter. There is also a 3D printer, used for prototyping and demonstration functions. “We originally used prototyping tools for conference models, however we are now the usage of it more and more for design sports, specifically in integration activities while we need to apprehend tool get entry to and viewing on display isn’t properly enough.”

The whole design-to-production cycle is controlled via Teamcenter, that’s used to acquire data together with the toolpaths generated thru the producing method. Members of team of workers can specify request dates and portions. The manufacturing crew provides other facts, inclusive of traceability statistics. The sign-off team provides postmanufacture inspection reports detailing the verification technique. The Status characteristic is used to shield information and to summarize the system carried out, for instance, if work changed into completed internally or shrunk out. The complete workflow can be audited as deemed suitable.

univ of leicester  featured tcm
univ of leicester  featured tcm

From concept to launch site

“NX is very effective,” says Ivor McDonnell, senior mechanical engineer for the Mercury Imaging X-ray Telescope (MIXS) instrument at the Space Research Centre. MIXS is due for launch on the European Space Agency’s Bepi Colombo project to Mercury in 2015. McDonnell notes, “NX offers us tools that flow seamlessly among the specific stages of layout and production, and it integrates the whole cycle. We have been actively worried in all factors of the MIXS task, and the use of NX and NX Nastran® we help all the essential take a look at activities, which includes vibration trying out to simulate the launch load. We discover the NX gear mainly effective at providing correct correlation to real design environments.”

Another project taking advantage of the usage of NX and Teamcenter is the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), set to update the Hubble Space Telescope in 2018. The primary mirror in this telescope is six instances large in region than the one on Hubble, and it has a solar guard the dimensions of a tennis court docket to defend it. An extremely formidable undertaking, the University of Leicester is the lead mechanical engineering team for the worldwide consortium developing one of the four technology devices sitting in the back of the replicate, the Mid Infrared Instrument (MIRI). “We discovered NX very beneficial for looking at all mechanical aspects of the device and the allotted envelope, such as tool access, and for designing the floor help device a good way to be used to move the instrument to NASA,” feedback Jon Sykes, lead mechanical engineer for MIRI on the Space Research Centre. “This is an progressive solution that prices considerably much less than standard structures, and we efficiently examined it through delivery a prototype model to NASA.“

univ of leicester  featured tcm
univ of leicester  featured tcm

Improved collaboration shortens cycle

“Using NX and Teamcenter allows us to reap an awful lot greater,” says Samara-Ratna. “Together they invent a cohesive environment, in which a range of specialists can interact, have interaction and talk layout issues. Teamcenter is a single supply of statistics and manipulate. Our gadgets designed for the Mars rover, as an instance, are fully controlled within Teamcenter. We have won both flexibility and protection. Mistakes can’t be propagated through the machine, so there is no risk of a person making a exchange which can have a terrible impact. Our electronics engineers are capable of export full 3-d electronics boards into our fashions, and the mixing of electrical and mechanical design has improved our performance and decreased re-design time. As a result, the time from concept to final product is a great deal shorter.”

Samara-Ratna goes on to explain the benefit of collaboration: “We collaborate with a couple of institutes, large and small, all using their personal software program. NX has the capability to deal with distinct records codecs and synchronous technology allows us to manipulate models almost as though they had been our own design.”

univ of leicester  featured tcm
univ of leicester  featured tcm

From studies to truth

Samara-Ratna thankfully renowned the contribution of the Centre’s dealer, TEAM Engineering. He points out, “The experts at TEAM Engineering do not simply offer training and software, they may be partners who genuinely help us to get the best out of our tools, specifically with regard to generation switch. As a result, we’re running with English Heritage to scan fourteenth-century tombs for historical artifacts. We also are running with industry to assist with using additive production in high-overall performance engineering applications.”

Samara-Ratna concludes: “The NX product improvement answer is certainly essential to what we do here and is now an intrinsic a part of how we perform. We are making the tools of NX to be had to greater college students and extending the blessings from the engineering surroundings into mission management.”

univ of leicester  featured tcm
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