Hot Lithography-based Additive Manufacturing of Antennas for Space

Project abstract:

The objective of
the project HITAMAiSPA is the development of a strategy to manufacture
satellite antennas using high-performance polymers via additive manufacturing
(AM) and their functionalization via surface metallization techniques.

The proposed application is based on
an antenna array to provide global coverage, which displays a significant
reduction in terms of height when compared to the traditionally used Global
Horns, thus reduces the accommodation limitations of these kinds of antennas.
AM enables the design of the antenna array in a reduced number of pieces, which
simplifies considerably the highly time-consuming assembly and test phases.
Additionally, using polymer as material results in lightweight,
payload-reducing parts.

To achieve this
goal, it is necessary to fabricate precise AM parts with low surface roughness
and additionally ensure the required (thermo)mechanical properties for
application in extreme environments (e.g.
high-temperature variations from -50 to 300 °C, vacuum). Therefore, it is
essential to use a base polymeric material, which tolerates high temperature as
well as temperature cycles. This demanding task will be achieved by the use of
newly developed polymer materials accessible via the Hot Lithography process established
by the company Cubicure GmbH.

the surface of such high-performance polymeric AM parts needs to be coated in a
way that provides functionality via good adherence and uniform plating of subsequently
metalized 3D surfaces. Thus, a wet chemical process will be used to ensure uniform
activation and metallization by different conductive layers of choice (such as
Cu or Ag) of the outer and inner areas even of complex structures. Therefore,
the proposed concept for satellite end-use applications guided by TTI Norte will
benefit from introducing the surface metallization process into the newly
developed additive manufacturing workflow and tailoring of the wet-chemical
process to the developed AM material.

project has distinctive innovation potential for satellite communication
systems and the space industry and may provide knowledge even beyond the scope
of the project, e.g. for the usage of
polymer-based, metalized parts like other passive RF components (e.g. filters) or heat exchangers. 

General Information:

Program: ASAP 2019

Funding Agency: FFG

Project duration: 01.11.2020 – 28.02.2023

Project coordinator: CEST

Project partner: 

TTI Norte, Spain

Cubicure GmbH, Austria