NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program has provided Continuous Composites funding to additively manufacture open isogrids that have a sufficiently low coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) to be usable on satellites and for other space applications. The Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, company is using its patented Continuous Fiber 3D (CF3D) printing technology to produce the isogrids, which, thanks to their distinctive design, are extremely light and stiff.
The company aims to demonstrate the ability of the CF3D’s advanced robotic steering system to produce flat, continuous-carbon-fiber structures measuring 1.6- by 3.3-ft. The completed structures can be deposited on different-shaped surfaces, including flat, cylindrical, spherical, and conical ones. The isogrids must have a low CTE because objects in space experience dramatic temperature changes as they orbit Earth. A low CTE prevents warping or distortion.
“This printed isogrid will have very little to zero CTE, which is the goal for these types of space structures,” said John Brendel, a Continuous Composite applications engineer. “This contract builds upon the work we have been doing in the DoD and commercial aerospace sector.”