Space launch company Orbex has announced that it will start using AMCM’s bespoke 3D printer to build new rocket engines.
Considered to be the largest industrial 3D printer in Europe, the printer will allow Orbex to create over 35 large-scale rocket engine and main stage turbopump systems annually as it scales up production capabilities for launches.
The AMCM device can print rocket parts using a custom blend of metals including titanium and aluminium to create a lightweight system that can withstand the temperature and pressure extremes of spaceflight.
Orbex will print components such as rocket engines as a single piece, eliminating weaknesses that can arise from joining and welding.
The 3D printed components have been termed as critical parts of Orbex’s launch vehicle – a 19m long ‘microlauncher’ rocket dubbed Prime – that will deliver small satellites into polar orbits around the Earth.
According to The Engineer, AMCM will supply a complete printing suite with post-processing machinery plus machine vision systems for automatic image-based inspection of printed components.
“Although our rocket engines and other critical systems are already quite mature after years of testing, a large-scale in-house 3D printing system like this gives us far greater speed and agility as we ramp up production,” says Orbex CEO Chris Larmour.
“It means we can continue to iterate and drive up performance even further. Longer term, as we get ready for multiple launches per year, it will give us greater control over our costs and supply chain.”
Orbex will be expanding its factory floor space by 1,000 m² to accommodate the super large 3D printing machine.
Image and content: Orbex/The Engineer