Embedding Electromagnetic Components into CubeSat Structures Using Additive Manufacturing

Open Access
Arenson, Rebecca Ann
Area of Honors:
Electrical Engineering
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Sven G Bilen, Thesis Supervisor
  • Sven G Bilen, Honors Advisor
  • Timothy Kane, Faculty Reader
  • Antennas
  • Additive Manufacturing
  • 3D Printing
  • Electromagnetics
  • CubeSat
Grant funding and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launch initiatives for CubeSats make research using satellites research available to universities and projects with relatively low budgets. The small scale of CubeSats—only 10 cm × 10 cm × 10 cm per 1U (one unit) cube, requires efficient use of spacecraft volume. Many CubeSats employ measuring-tape dipole antennas that can only provide omni-directional patterns, or patch antennas that take away surface area needed for solar panels. Additive manufacturing has also become an important topic of research as 3-dimensional printing techniques improve. This work explores techniques for using additive manufacturing to save space on small satellites by embedding electromagnetic components, such as antennas, into the structure elements of a CubeSat. Two primary methods are analyzed, one using finite deposition modeling printing and one using stereolithography. These two types of printers were selected because they are easily accessible and affordable. The filaments for the Finite Deposition Modeling method proved insufficient at this time. However, the stereolithography method successfully produced conductive components embedded within structural elements, including an antenna embedded in a CubeSat cross-brace.