Zortrax is Sending a Conductive Demonstrator Aboard the WISA Woodsat Space Mission

Published on October 20, 2021 by Mikahila L.
Zortrax WISA Woodsat

By the end of this year, Zortrax is expected to send a 3D-printed electrical circuit, made on their Endureal printer, to be tested onboard the WISA Woodsat CubeSat space mission. Ultimately, the goal of this mission is to reach low Earth orbit and transmit the first-ever message routed through a device 3D-printed entirely with high-performance polymers. Interestingly, the WISA Woodsat is going to be the first satellite made out of birchwood.

Since 2019, Zortrax has been working with the support of the European Space Agency to develop a composite 3D printing technology capable of making space-ready parts. As companies continue to invest money into proof-of-concept development for 3D-printed parts, flight-testing the 3D-printed PEEK polymeric-based electrical circuits for the first time in history, the WISA Woodstat is set to be a groundbreaking mission.

PEEK-Conductive PEEK composite models printed for the European Space Agency. (Photo Credit: Zortrax)

WISA Woodstat Space Mission

PEEK is a 3D printing material that can prove quite difficult to print with due to its high melting temperatures that can reach over 400°C. Furthermore, when cooling down to room temperature, PEEK contracts significantly which introduces structural stresses inside the printed part which can then cause warping or even cracking. The Zortrax engineers used printing temperatures that exceeded 430°C — which was quite high, even for PEEK. This was because the engineers wanted to achieve a uniform distribution of graphene nano-particles and carbon nanotubes, which would increase the conductivity of the conductive paths. One of the primary objectives of the WISA Woodsat mission is to test new materials and uncover manufacturing methods for the space industry. With big startups joining the newest space race, this mission may reveal new techniques that will be applicable to many aspiring space explorers.

Several parts of this CubeSat are made of birch wood that is covered with a coating that is made to protect the wood from the space environment. The CubeSat will be launched onboard the Electron rocket which is partially recoverable and has significant portions of its body made of lightweight carbon composites. Learn more about the WISA Woodstat space mission HERE.

Zortrax WISA Woodsat

Miniaturized example of the conductive demonstrator printed for the WISA Woodsat mission. (Photo Credit: Zortrax)

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Cover Photo Credit: Zortrax

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