Combination of SLS and Windform used to create parts for CubeSat.
Additive manufacturing provider to the motorsports industry, CRP USA has stretched the limits of selective laser sintering technology to produce parts for the KySat-2 CubeSat made with Windform XT 2.0.
The North Carolina based company which specialises in 3D printing applications for space, entertainment and automotive industries, used its proprietary technology to launch the CubeSat which successfully went into orbit in 2013.
Together with the Kentucky Space Centre, University of Kentucky and Morehead State University, the CubeSat was launched as part of the NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ElaNa) IV mission out of the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. First developed in 2011 following the KySat-1, KySat-2 is the second CubeSat nanosatellite entirely designed, built, and tested by students of the University of Kentucky and Morehead State University.
KySat-2 CubeSat made with Windform XT 2.0.
The 3D printed components on board the nanosatellite included the mounting hardware for the camera system, extensions for the separation switches, clips for holding the antennas and a mounting bracket for the batteries.
CRP USA notes several benefits for using the combination of SLS and Windform materials for providing parts that were both tough and robust but also extremely lightweight. The process was also selected for the benefits it provides for small production runs and replacement parts by lowering the time to market and production costs.
Additive manufacturing can also adhere to tight specifications that are crucial to the space exploration industry. With CNC machining it is possible to bring tolerances down to a hundredth of a millimetre therefore Windform parts can be machined with 5-axis milling centres to achieve complex and accurate features.
KySat-2's primary objective is a proof of concept. It features a 5 megapixel digital camera, a temperature sensor, a 3-axis MEMS rate gyroscope, a 3-axis magnetometer, and a “stellar gyroscope”. Once in orbit, the satellite will use RF signals to communicate with the ground station, receiving commands and transmitting data and photos.