CubeSat Challenge for Aerospace Engineers and Students Launched
Andrew Wheeler posted on May 26, 2015 |
A new challenge from Stratasys for GrabCAD's 2 million members
Many major industries, from aerospace to automotive, are exploring how to incorporate 3D printing technology beyond prototyping and into manufacturing goods. Stratasys and its recently restructured subsidiary, MakerBot, announced a CubeSat Challenge on GrabCAD. If you are unfamiliar with GrabCAD, it hosts a huge community of mechanical engineers, who share and improve CAD-based engineering designs. For the CubeSat Challenge, GrabCAD community members are invited to use the flexibility of manufacturing that 3D printing offers to rethink the CubeSat. If you are unfamiliar with a CubeSat, it is a standardized and small research satellite generally manufactured by universities, aerospace startups and independent makers around the world.

Entries will be posted in the GrabCAD Challenge and a panel of judges from aerospace and 3D printing fields will select the winners. Participants have a chance to win cash prizes, as well as MakerBot Replicator 3D printers and Stratasys Direct Manufacturing print services.

The CubeSat’s standardized geometry, componentry and interfaces were introduced in 1999, and, for the first time ever, the cost of building and launching a satellite descended to within reach of startups, schools and makers around the world. If you are building CubeSats today, you are part of perhaps the fastest growing segment in the aerospace industry. 

The reason why traditional manufacturing methodology remains a constraint when considering a CubeSat structure is because the small satellite contains between 30 and 50 parts that need to be assembled by hand. 

“3D printing allows aerospace engineers to think differently about building satellites and gives them a whole new toolset for packing more capability into a constrained volume. 3D printing can also simplify production as you move from the hand-built satellites of today to an automated process that will enable constellations of small satellites to be built more efficiently. We’re excited to see how the GrabCAD community can advance the CubeSat standard to provide even greater utility,” says Scott Sevcik, business development manager for aerospace and defense at Stratasys.
The CubeSat houses all the basic functionality for a research satellite in a standardized 10cm x 10cm x 10cm cube (known as 1U) with a maximum weight of 1.33 kg. The CubeSat is scalable by bundling multiple 1U CubeSat frames in 3U, 6U, or even 12U configurations to provide enhanced functionality in a more complex system.

GrabCAD Challenge entries submitted by the June 22, 2015, deadline will be eligible for the following prizes:
1st Prize

·    1 MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer
·    $2,500
·    Your design printed by Stratasys Direct Manufacturing*
·    Story in Stratasys online communication and featured at Stratasys trade show and conference appearances

2nd Prize

·    1 MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer
·    $1,000
·    Your design printed by Stratasys Direct Manufacturing*
3rd Prize

·    1 MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer
·    $500

4th-10th Prize

·    MakerBot T-Shirt
·    $100
·    3D Printed Sample Part

The judges of the Challenge are:

·    Jordi Puig-Suari, professor at California Polytechnic State University and co-inventor of the CubeSat Standard
·    Robert Hoyt, CEO and chief scientist, Tethers Unlimited Inc.
·    David Espalin, center manager, W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation, University of Texas, El Paso
·    Adam Hadaller, mission manager, Spaceflight Industries
·    Patrick Price, aerospace additive manufacturing research engineer, Stratasys
·    Jesse Marin, aerospace project engineer, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing
·    Jonathan Cook, director of product, MakerBot
Many aerospace engineers are gravitating toward 3D printing as a means to build assembly fixtures, composite layup tools, prototypes and non-flight engineering design units. As software design files become more standardized and flexible (we’ll see, 3MF Consortium), hardware and materials innovations might reveal themselves at a swifter pace. 

No matter how you feel about recent events regarding MakerBot and Stratasys (cutting 20 percent of their engineering and design staff) their desktop 3D printers are certainly being used in the aerospace industry right now. For example, engineers at Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Center, in Palo Alto, California, recently used 3D-printed models to develop parts for NIRCam, which is a crucial optical instrument for the James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in 2018. 
To submit an entry, please visit the GrabCAD Challenge page.

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