Stratasys and MakerBot launch CubeSat challenge for aerospace engineers and students

May 21, 2015
MINNEAPOLIS, 21 May 2015. 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.

MINNEAPOLIS, 21 May 2015. 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.

A growing number of aerospace companies are embracing 3D printing (three-dimensional printing), transforming how they prototype and manufacture. Stratasys, a global provider of 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions, and its subsidiary MakerBot announced the CubeSat Challenge on GrabCAD, a community of mechanical engineers to support innovation in aerospace engineering.

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. 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,” said Scott Sevcik, business development manager for aerospace & defense at Stratasys.

The CubeSat houses all the basic functionality for a research satellite in a standardized 10cmX10cmX10cm 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.

All challenge 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.

GrabCAD Challenge entries submitted by the June 22, 2015, deadline will be eligible for the following prizes:

1st Prize

1 MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer


Your design printed by Stratasys Direct Manufacturing*

Story in Stratasys online communication and featured at Stratasys trade show and conference appearances

2nd Prize

1 MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer


Your design printed by Stratasys Direct Manufacturing*

3rd Prize

1 MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer


4th-10th Prize

MakerBot T-Shirt


3D Printed Sample Part

The judges of the Challenge are:

Dr. Jordi Puig-Suari, Cal Poly Professor & Co-Inventor of the CubeSat Standard

Dr. Robert Hoyt, CEO & Chief Scientist, Tethers Unlimited Inc

David Espalin, Center Manager - W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation, University of Texas El Paso

Adam Hadaller, Mission Manager, Spaceflight Industries

Patrick Price, Aerospace Additive Manufacturing Research Engineer, Stratasys

Jesse Marin, Aerospace Project Engineer, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing

Jonathan Cook, Director of Product, MakerBot

3D printing is uniquely suited for the complex challenge of turning designs into functioning models and is already used widely in the industry. Many aerospace engineers have gravitated to 3D printing to build assembly fixtures, composite layup tools, prototypes and non-flight engineering design units. New materials and processes are accelerating adoption, and it is now possible to produce flight components by 3D printing them.

Stratasys and MakerBot offer a range of 3D printers that enable engineers to develop, prototype and manufacture aerospace parts. Stratasys recently announced that Airbus has produced more than 1000 flight parts on their Stratasys FDM 3D Production Systems for use on A350 XWB aircraft. MakerBot Desktop 3D Printers are used in the aerospace industry too. Engineers at Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Center, in Palo Alto, CA, for example, used 3D-printed models to develop parts for NIRCam, an essential optical instrument for the James Webb Space Telescope, which is set to launch in 2018.

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

Recognizing the need to develop custom solutions for high requirements markets, Stratasys, the world leader in Additive Manufacturing, formed Vertical Solutions teams for key industries. Drawing top technical and management talent from those key industries, Stratasys built teams that speak the language and understand the core challenges of their respective markets. The Aerospace Vertical Solutions Team is sponsoring the Additive CubeSat Challenge, with collaboration from our GrabCAD, Makerbot and Stratasys Direct Manufacturing colleagues.

Stratasys Ltd. (Nasdaq:SSYS), headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Rehovot, Israel, is a global provider of 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions. The company's patented FDM and PolyJet 3D Printing technologies produce prototypes and manufactured goods directly from 3D CAD files or other 3D content. Systems include 3D printers for idea development, prototyping and direct digital manufacturing. Stratasys subsidiaries include MakerBot and Solidscape, and the company operates the digital parts manufacturing service, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. Stratasys has more than 3,000 employees, holds over 800 granted or pending additive manufacturing patents globally, and has received more than 30 awards for its technology and leadership.

Founded in 2009, MakerBot sells desktop 3D printers to innovative and industry-leading customers worldwide, including engineers, architects, designers, educators, and consumers. MakerBot has one of the largest installed bases and market shares of the desktop 3D printing industry, with more than 80,000 MakerBot Desktop 3D Printers in the world. The robust MakerBot 3D Ecosystem makes 3D printing easy and accessible for everyone.

GrabCAD, a subsidiary of Stratasys, helps engineers get products to market faster by making it simple to manage and share CAD files. GrabCAD Workbench makes it easy for engineers to manage and share files, work with partners and complete projects on time, while the GrabCAD Community accelerates the design process by tapping into the knowledge and resources of the largest source of CAD content and engineering minds in the world. Founded in 2010, the company is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., with development offices in Estonia and the UK, and was acquired by Stratasys. Inc in 2014.

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