Northrop Grumman AlignMate
Precision alignment for mission critical performance
One of the most common tasks in working with space technologies is precisely aligning an assembled Printed Circuit Board (PCB) to a mechanical frame. These frames and PCB’s must interface with surrounding electronics through use of dense fragile connectors, with any misalignment of the assembly causing the connectors to shear. Getting into space creates considerable vibration, and with no air, conduction is the only method of cooling available. In these complex situations, high precision alignment of the PCB to the mechanical frame is required to allow for cooling and to not damage the small and fragile electrical components. Our project aims to surpass Northrop Grumman’s current PCB alignment technology. Our team has designed AlignMate, a precision tool that uses a variety of clever mechanics to perfectly constrain both the PCB and frame and not only simplify and expedite this process, but also be adjustable to different sizes of boards from 4 to 12 inches in length. Our tool aims to have an impressive alignment accuracy of under a thousandth of an inch while also capturing images under high magnification to document the accuracy and tolerance of every alignment.