Development of printed heaters for space systems


Heaters printed directly onto space structures using thick film technology offer several advantages over other technologies such as film heaters on polyimide foil or heater cartridges. The advantages include, for example, possible high operating temperatures (330 °C) combined with high power densities (40 W/cm²). After the performance of the new heaters has been demonstrated in previous projects, the manufacturing process currently has to be qualified in order to meet the high quality demands and safety requirements of space flight.

Ziele und Vorgehen

The project aims at high power densities and a manufacturing and integration process that can be automated. After testing various suitable materials, different designs were developed, tested and modeled. Currently Airbus and Fraunhofer IWS are jointly developing a process qualification document. On the one hand, these documents contain a technology description including critical manufacturing parameters as well as information on which criteria can be used to test the heaters. In addition, a technology transfer to possible future suppliers is being prepared as part of the project.

Innovationen und Perspektiven

Process qualification will ensure reproducible production of the heaters and enable their design for spacecraft thermal control systems. It is a necessary step in order to be able to use a technology in space missions at all. It is also a prerequisite for suppliers to be able to adapt the technology. In the long term, printed heaters will enable more powerful, reliable and mass-saving thermal control systems for space travel.