PrintSat – An Amateur Radio 3D Printer CubeSat

The image shows the building of a CubeSat with Additive Manufacturing with the WINDFORM XT. Image Credit Windform

Students at Montana Sate University (MSU) are planning to build their new amateur radio satellite PrintSat with nano-carbon-impregnated plastic using a 3D printer.

David Klumpar KD7MFJ of MSU said 3D printing “will further lower the costs and speed the development of very small satellites, enabling future scientific missions comprised of dozens of satellites flying in formation.”

Jim White WD0E, president of Colorado Satellite Services, explained that “Additive manufacturing (also called 3-D printing) has evolved in the past few years to be a very inexpensive and fast way to make mechanical parts. With PrintSat, the entire structure of the small satellite will be printed. As the first use of additive manufacturing for a satellite, we plan to show it’s not only cheaper and faster, but that we can make parts that cannot be made in traditional ways.”

When in orbit PrintSat will measure and report on the characteristics of the Windform XT2.0 printed material and plating during its mission life in order to verify the utility of additive manufacturing for spacecraft structures and mechanisms.

PrintSat plans to use the same frequencies as RAMPART and use GMSK 9k6 Ax.25 packet radio. It is aiming for a May 2103 launch from the Wallops Flight Facility into a 500km 40 degree inclination orbit.

Other satellites planning to fly on the same launch include Blacknight-1, Spa-1 Trailblazer, Phonesat, Kysat- II, Rampart, NPS-SCAT, Copper, TJSat, Tethersat, Lunar orbiter/lander CubeSat, Swampsat, Cape-2, Dragonsat-1 and Ethersat.

Montana State University Space Science and Engineering Laboratory

Windform XT2.0

IARU Amateur Satellite Frequency Coordination Status Pages