Last year, Nano Dimension and technology company Harris Corporation achieved a breakthrough in 3D printed electronics with the production of a radio frequency (RF) amplifier. Now, the companies will further their cooperation by jointly developing hardware destined for the International Space Station. The recent partnership, supported by a grant from the Israel Innovation Authority, aims to establish a systemic ground analysis of 3D printed materials for RF space systems, such as Nano-satellites.
The joint project has a one-year timeline, during which 3D printed electronics pioneer Nano Dimension will work with Harris Corp. to advance and optimize the 3D printing process and design for RF components for a flight studies system aboard the ISS.
Harris Corporation, whose portion of the project is supported by a grant from Space Florida, has been exploring the benefits of additive manufacturing for creating RF circuits for wireless systems for some time. Following the success of its cooperation with Nano Dimension last year, it’s no surprise that the companies are continuing on their journey together.
The hardware developed by Harris Corp and Nano Dimension using the latter’s electronics 3D printing technology, is being designed to fly on the ISS and to communicate with Harris’ ground-based satellite tracking station in Florida. As mentioned, the project will offer a systemic analysis of 3D printed materials for RF space systems. According to the companies, the system will fly aboard the ISS in low earth orbit for one year to gather data on how 3D printed circuits, systems and materials endure and react in outer space.
Broadly, the project aims to demonstrate the viability of using new technologies, such as 3D printing, to produce RF systems. Up until now, the production of RF systems had remained somewhat stagnant about 30 years. 3D printing is injecting new life into the radio frequency devices, offering a new manufacturing paradigm that is less labour intensive and increasingly streamlined. Notably, 3D printing RF systems also results in significantly less material waste.
Going forward, the Israeli-American project will be supported by about $416,000 from the Israeli side, 40% of which is financed by the Israel Innovation Authority. The grant agreement stipulates that Nano Dimension will pay royalties on future sales up until the full grant amount.
The project has also been selected by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, which manages the ISS U.S. National Laboratory. The center will coordinate the space flight experiment on the ISS using the 3D printed materials and circuits.