Stratasys and MakerBot Launch CubeSat Challenge for Aerospace Engineers and Students

Challenge taps GrabCAD's 2 million members to rethink the research satellite

MINNEAPOLIS & BROOKLYN, N.Y. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — May 20, 2015 — A growing number of aerospace companies are embracing 3D printing as they transform how they prototype and manufacture. To support innovation in aerospace engineering, Stratasys, the leading global provider of 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions, and its subsidiary MakerBot, today announced the CubeSat Challenge on GrabCAD, home to the world’s largest community of mechanical engineers. The CubeSat Challenge invites the GrabCAD community to use 3D printing to rethink the CubeSat, a standard small research satellite built by universities, aerospace startups and independent makers around the world.

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

With the introduction of CubeSat and its standardized geometry, componentry and interfaces in 1999, the cost of building and launching a satellite plummeted. Today, CubeSats are one of the fastest growing segments of the aerospace industry. Yet traditional manufacturing methodology remains a constraint; a CubeSat structure contains between 30 and 50 parts that need to be assembled manually. “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,” said Scott Sevcik, business development manager for aerospace & defense at Stratasys.

The CubeSat houses all the basic functionality for a research satellite in a standardized 10cmX10cmX10cm cube (known as 1U) with a maximum weight of 1.33 kg. The CubeSat is scalable by ganging 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
  • $2500
  • 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
  • $1000
  • 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:

  • Dr. Jordi Puig-Suari, Cal Poly Professor & Co-Inventor of the CubeSat Standard
  • Dr. Robert Hoyt, CEO & 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

3D printing is uniquely suited for the complex challenge of turning designs into functioning models and is already used widely in the industry. Many aerospace engineers have gravitated to 3D printing to build assembly fixtures, composite layup tools, prototypes and non-flight engineering design units. New materials and processes are accelerating adoption, and it is now possible to produce flight components by 3D printing them.

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