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The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a global project to build the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope for investigation of the universe. SKA will consist of a collection 3000 individual antennas spiralling out from the centre of the array with a minimum arm length of 3000 kilometre. Due to the enormous size of this telescope and the need for a long term radio quiet zone, two possible locations have been short listed: South Africa stretching to the Indian Ocean islands and Australia – New Zealand.
Composite material is selected as a promising material for construction of the dishes due to its low mass, high stiffness and minimal coefficient of thermal expansion. The large production volume requires a fast, reliable and affordable production process, making carbon fibre reinforced thermoplastics a suitable candidate.
In the SKA project DTC is investigating the press forming of double curved panels, which together form a dish, as well as press forming of long (~1.5 m) supporting profiles.