Next Intent saves turnaround times and lightweight workpieces with precise machining analysis using GibbsCAM CAD/CAM software.
“There is a contact!”
This cry of joy was heard in many corners of planet Earth when the Spirit rover touched the surface of Mars on January 4, 2004. All the following days, the rover accepted instructions for conducting scientific experiments from scientists and engineers on Earth. Also, the rover photographed the surface of the red planet from close proximity.
The Spirit rover itself consists of thousands of parts, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) research institute is entrusted with the selection of parts for the rovers and their production. The JPL Institute directly produces approximately 20% of the parts using its own facilities, while the remaining 80% of the parts are assigned to enterprises such as Next Intent, San Luis Obispo, California. Working on the Mars rover project was a delightful task for Next Intent, especially given the recent success of the landing of the device on Mars.
“Our team literally did not find a place for itself from the excitement from the moment of launch until the landing of the rover,” admits Rodney Babcock, president of Next Intent.
Next Intent manufactured many parts for the rover, including wheels, camera mounts, titanium hub wheels and several suspension arms, which are U-shaped rods with complex angles and clipped walls. These pendant arms are made of solid titanium and have a wall thickness of 1 mm (0.040 inches). Finally, they needed to be adjusted to each other for electron beam welding. Only for the systems of the rover and the lander, more than thirty drives and motors were required. Some of these parts are used to open the lander and the release of the rover, some for the deployment of scientific equipment and communication devices, and some of them are part of the system of movement and control of the rover.