3D-MID4Space - Characterisation of 3D Moulded Interconnect Devices (3D-MID) for space telecom applications

Status date
Activity Code

The objectives of the activity are to

  • characterise the suitability of 3D-MID technologies, manufacturing techniques, processes and materials for space telecom applications. Target for this activity is TRL5.
  • identify critical issues and recommendations, with respect to possible next steps, changes or modifications that may be required, lessons learned and conclusions.
  • propose possible follow on activities and road map to help increase the Technology Readiness Level (TRL).


Applications such as position sensors, actuators, switches, and antennas can benefit from the manufacture of complex structures and shapes that cannot be realised by conventional electronic manufacturing methods. The use of 3D-MID technology allows geometric design freedom which combined with selective structuring and metallisation offers a number of potential benefits leading to reduction in overall system costs.

  • optimal space utilisation via high functional integration density of mechanical and electronic functions on one component

-   miniaturisation with significant weight savings

-  3D layout permits defined angles between components, stacking and precision placement of components. 

-  high level of precision into the ultra-fine conductor range

-  reduction of assemblies through reduction of conventional interconnect devices (e.g., strip conductors directly in the enclosure)

  • MID enabled designs allow more efficient AIT (Assembly, Integration & Test)

-  rationalisation and overall system simplification via reduction of process steps, number of parts and mounting time

-  increase in manufacturing reliability due to fewer mechanical parts and processes

-  full three-dimensionality with through plating allows complex three-dimensional interconnect devices

-  production with high variance and short changeover times. Layout change of the conductor network needs no tools, just a change of the CAD layout data


3D-MID Technology enables the integration of mechanical, electronic, optical and thermal functions into a single part via selective metallisation offering a high geometric design freedom.

The use of injection moulded thermoplastics with integrated conducting circuits to incorporate mechanical, optical and electronic functions into three-dimensional designs supports the miniaturisation of electronic devices allowing designs with intricate structures and shapes to be realised offering potentially significant savings in space, mass and weight not possible with conventional electronic manufacturing methods.

The term MID can also include mechatronic integrated devices taking into account the fact that the three-dimensional carriers do not necessarily have to be injection moulded thermoplastics. Other materials, such as ceramics and thermosets can also be used, allowing the integration of sensors in complex structures or the integration of shielding, cooling and housing for optimal miniaturisation and weight saving. Even thermal functions such as heat dissipation and cooling can be realised using thermal conductive substrate materials and fully metallised surfaces.


The project activities were divided into two phases and six work tasks (work packages) as follows:

  • Phase 1: Investigation, Definition and Process Evaluation

-  Task 1:    Technology review & selection of space applications

-  Task 2:    Evaluation of manufacturing processes & selection of materials

  • Phase 2: Design, Manufacturing and Characterisation

-  Task 3:    Design, prototype definition and test planning

-  Task 4:    Manufacturing and assembly of parts

-  Task 5:    Characterisation of the manufactured part

-  Task 6:    Results analysis, identification of critical issues and future developments

Current status

The outcome of Task 1 was presented in the form of Technical Notes

  • TN-001:   Technology Review identified 3D-MID manufacturing techniques and materials that offer a solution for the integration of electrical and mechanical functions in space applications, taking into consideration the various materials and ‘end-to-end’ manufacturing processes (i.e. design, engineering and assembly). This was supported with information provided by suppliers based on their own heritage and development projects.
  • TN-002:   Preliminary design plan and requirements. Test samples manufactured using the most promising of the 3D-MID technologies, materials and manufacturing processes.

Next step is to build test vehicles for evaluation.

Prime Contractor