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In-Space Additive Manufacturing of Electronics

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The new era for space exploration is here. Governments are in a frenetic race to conquer Low Earth Orbit (LEO), the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But governments are not the only ones participating in this race. Several private companies are deploying products and services in space, mostly via satellites, and later in the decade, via commercial space stations.

The market is calling for space infrastructure, and companies are delivering. The satellite count has gone from 2000 at the end of 2019, to over 10000 in 2022. This is a staggering figure that is justified by actual revenue for many of the participating companies.

The constellation of satellites is probably the most valuable asset for these companies, as they represent their main revenue stream. However, space is a harsh environment, and many of these satellites won’t be in service for more than five years. Some will run out of fuel to correct their trajectory, and some will get damaged by the strong radiation they are exposed to. Extending the life of this satellite is an interesting business case worth considering.

In this presentation, BotFactory discusses the use cases of Additive Manufacturing of Electronics (AME) in space. The conversation will span different topics including materials, processes, minimum requirements, limitations, possible repair protocols, and architectural changes that will need to happen during satellite design to make them serviceable in space, extending their lifetime and capabilities.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify the parts with the highest failure rate in space, the root causes, current approaches, and drivers of development and monetary costs.
  • Enumerate different approaches to increase the lifetime of the equipment in space, decrease the development and maintenance cost, improve the operational readiness of missions, and mitigate risks.
  • Quantitatively evaluate the key financial metrics and drivers for a transition to AM technologies to make a viable business case for In-Space Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing (ISAM).