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CubeSat Fabrication Through Additive Manufacturing and Micro-Dispensing
Keywords: Additive Manufacturing, stereolithography; direct-print, CubeSat
Fabricating entire systems with electrical, structural, thermal, optical, and other content through on-demand 3D printing is the future for high value manufacturing. In this new paradigm, conformal and complex shapes with a diversity of materials in spatial gradients can be built layer-by-layer using hybrid Additive Manufacturing (AM). A design can be conceived in Computer Aided Design (CAD) and printed on-demand. This new integrated approach enables the fabrication of sophisticated electronics in mechanical structures by avoiding the restrictions of traditional fabrication techniques, which result in stiff, two dimensional printed circuit boards (PCB) fabricated using many disparate and wasteful processes. The integration of AM combined with Direct Print (DP) micro-dispensing and robotic pick-and-place for component placement can 1) provide the capability to print-on-demand fabrication, 2) enable the use of micron-resolution cavities for press fitting electronic components and 3) integrate conductive traces for electrical interconnect between components. The fabrication freedom introduced by AM techniques such as stereolithography (SL) and fused deposition modeling (FDM) have only recently been explored in the context of electronics integration and 3D packaging. This paper describes a process that provides a novel approach for the fabrication of stiff conformal structures with integrated electronics and describes a prototype demonstration: a volumetrically-efficient sensor and microcontroller subsystem scheduled to launch in a CubeSat designed with the CubeFlow methodology.
Rodolfo Salas,
The University of Texas at El Paso
El Paso, TX

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