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  • Writer's pictureSkykraft

Manufacturing electronics to withstand the harsh environment of space

Puzzle Precision

Electronics, are an integral part of the technology we use in our everyday lives such as smart phones, home appliances and car navigation systems. In the aerospace industry, electronics must be of the highest quality to withstand the extremely harsh environment of space.

Puzzle Precision are an Australian owned SME providing specialist manufacturing services to designers of complex electronic systems. Operating from Newcastle NSW, Puzzle Precision were able to assemble and solder Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) that will power Skykraft satellites and withstand the vibration and shock of the space environment.

A bare Skykraft PCB being used to set up a component placing robot at Puzzle Precision

Andrew Gibbs, Electrical Engineer at Skykraft, commented, "Skykraft chose Puzzle Precision based on their strong reputation for high-reliability electronics assembly. Puzzle have since delivered consistent quality at scale that combined with their regular, supportive communication has made an invaluable difference to our constellation development."

Our team designed and developed the PCBs using computer software programs to create layouts and 3D models of the boards and also make sure the board was functional.

The process

Knowing the electronics must operate for many years in the inaccessible and harsh environment of space, Puzzle Precision understood the rigor and high standards required for Skykraft satellites. With their core business in defence electronics, they were confident of meeting the quality, delivery and yield demands of the project. Puzzle Precision worked closely with Skykraft to identify manufacturability issues and ensure delivery ahead of the deadline.

Kescia Ball, Business Development Manager, Puzzle Precision commented, "Skykraft gave Puzzle Precision the opportunity, to apply our defence industry experience, and manufacture electronics for a constellation of LEO air traffic management satellites.”

Skykraft PCB during x-ray inspection at Puzzle Precision

Keith Buck, Production Manager, Puzzle Precision commented, "Skykraft were responsive with their testing and in most cases, we received authority to continue production within 24 hours of Skykraft receiving the boards.”

In the production process, each component is precision placed and soldered using tightly controlled and repeatable processes. Well-formed solder joints serve two functions. The first is to provide the electrical connections between the components and PCB. The second is to help the circuits withstand vibration, shock and thermal expansion by providing a cushioning effect between the component and PCB. Care must be taken to ensure the solder joints comply to the international standards for aerospace electronics manufacturing.

“We are proud to support Skykraft with sovereign manufacturing facilities as they seek to rapidly design, manufacture and deliver an enhanced satellite platform capable of supporting a wide variety of applications including Earth Observation and secure satellite communication capabilities,” said Ms. Ball.

About Puzzle Precision

Puzzle Precision provides highly skilled build to print electronics manufacturing services. Targeting high performance electronics, where solder joint quality contributes to reliability and performance on demand.

Puzzle Precision does this by delivering optimal product quality, IP security and sovereign manufacturing capabilities. They pride themselves on supporting customers for each prototype, project, major acquisition and export opportunity. Providing rapid turnaround on prototypes, their services include bespoke tooling and specialised process development to overcome manufacturability issues. They specialise in low volume, high value production runs of complex and unique designs from TRL3 to TRL9. Puzzle Precision are members of the Defence Industry Security Program.

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