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Stratasys and MakerBot launch CubeSat Challenge for aerospace engineers and students

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 (Eden Prairie, MN), a global provider of 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions, and its subsidiary MakerBot, have announced the CubeSat Challenge on GrabCAD, home to the world's largest community of mechanical engineers.

Clare Goldsberry

May 22, 2015

2 Min Read
Stratasys and MakerBot launch CubeSat Challenge for aerospace engineers and students

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 (Eden Prairie, MN), a global provider of 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions, and its subsidiary MakerBot, have 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.

All 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," said Scott Sevcik, Business Development Manager for Aerospace & Defense at Stratasys. "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."

The CubeSat houses all the basic functionality for a research satellite in a standardized 10 x 10 x 10 cm 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:

  • First prize: One MakerBot Replicator desktop 3D printer and $2500, plus the winning design will be printed by Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, and the winner's story will appear in Stratasys' online communication and featured at Stratasys trade show and conference appearances.

  • Second prize: One MakerBot Replicator desktop 3D printer and $1000, plus the design printed by Stratasys Direct Manufacturing.

  • Third prize: One MakerBot Replicator desktop 3D printer and $500.

  • Fourth through 10th prizes: MakerBot t-shirt, $100 and a 3D-printed sample part.

To learn more or to submit an entry, visit the GrabCAD Challenge page.

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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