New "Hinge" Tech Used On NASA/JPL Origami Rover
Pioneer Circuits has developed a high-temperature woven fabric “hinge” technology that is compatible with PCB rigid-flex manufacturing. The rigid-flex circuit technology is integrated into a highly reliable, composite structure for NASA/JPL's new PUFFER Micro-Rover bot. It is the first origami micro-rover configuration ever developed.
To make the technology possible, Pioneer Circuits developed new bonding and process capabilities. Integration of the high-temperature woven material as a layer in the PCB stack up allowed the mechanical and electrical functions to overcome limitations of typical polyimide builds. Using the material as a hinge would make the PUFFER more reliable and able to repeatedly collapse without damaging the copper traces. The new PUFFER design with Pioneer Circuits was capable of withstanding drop-testing that simulated the harsh space body environments, and was able withstand over 5000 cycle tests, 500% more than the original designs.
The PUFFER collapsible microrover is a part of NASA’s “Game Changing Development Program.” It is meant to be a compact rover that rides on board with future space vehicles to land on space bodies such as planets and asteroids for photographs and microanalysis.