David Espalin, Associate Director, W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation / UTEP
Multi-functionality- enabled by multi-technology or hybrid additive manufacturing- enables traditionally structural components to simultaneously provide additional utility (e.g. RF communications, sensing, structural health prognostics, propulsion, energy storage/transmission and thermal management). Through the direct integration of active components within a structure, volumetric efficiency can also be dramatically improved with increased freedom in the placement and/or direct printing of the payload. This presentation will describe a hybrid 3D printing process used to fabricate structures with embedded functionality for aerospace-relevant applications, including an isogrid satellite panel with an embedded antenna for communication. The embedded functionality was realized through patterning and embedding copper foil at several depths within a complex, polycarbonate isogrid structure to produce a 2.4GHz patch antenna. The presentation will discuss the fabrication process and the characterization of the printed devices.