Running in LEO, the 3D printed CubeSat will go through a 100°C temperature change, and the structure needs to be able to resist this, so the researchers also conducted a thermal shock test, which showed an acceptable thermal strain.

The thermal strain diagram of the CubeSat structure.

The team also conducted random vibration simulation experiments, so they could conform the structure of the 3D printed CubeSat to emission conditions. They simulated typical launch vibration characteristics, using NASA GEV qualification and acceptance as reference.

“The specific contents of the experiment include “Harmonic Response” and “Random Vibration”. Two identical harmonic response were performed before and after the random vibration test to assess the degree of structural degradation that may result from the launch load,” the researchers explained.

“This experiment helps us to evaluate the natural frequency of the structure, and the peak value indicates that the tested point (bottom panel) has reached the resonant frequency.”

Pre/Post Random Vibration test comparison between the curves of Harmonic Response.

As seen in the above figure, both the trend and peak points of the two curves are close to each other, which shows that there was no structural degradation after the vibration test, and that the structure itself conforms to launch stiffness specifications.

“As the primary performer of today’s space exploration missions, the CubeSat design considers orbit, payload, thermal balance, subsystem layout, and mission requirements. In this research, a CubeSat design for performing LEO tasks was proposed, including power budget, mass distribution, and ground testing, and the CubeSat structure for manufacturing was combined with 3D printing technology,” the researchers concluded.

“The results show that the CubeSat can withstand the launch loads without structural damage and can meet the launch stiffness specification.”

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