Large 3D Printer Order Placed by Orbex Space to Print Rocket Engines

8th Mar 2021
Orbex 3D printed engine

Orbex Space plans to launch rockets after printing their engines from an enormous 3D printer in 2022. The machine serves a crucial purpose for the company that wants to manufacture rocket engines rapidly. 

AMCM is making the 3D printer after signing a multi-million dollar contract and conducting numerous printing trials of various large rocket parts. Once delivered, the large printer will enable Orbex space to print 35 engines plus the main stage’s turbo system each year. 

All these are geared towards its ambitions to expand launch capacities in Scotland’s space industry. The machine will be extremely large, explaining why the company is currently undertaking an expansion plan for its manufacturing facility. 

Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex Space, explained the new 3D printer’s role in its plans. The company already has quality engines and systems that have stood the test of time, but manufacturing is slow. The new addition will scale the numbers up, ensuring it meets its set targets per annum. 

Simultaneously, the machine will make it possible to upscale performance now and still benefit the future. For example, as the company plans for numerous launches in Scotland’s Sutherland Spaceport , the 3D printer will lead to better supply chain and cost control. 

Given the successful results at AMCM after conducting several trials, Orbex Space is assured it made the right choice. 

How will the 3D Printer Manufacture Rocket Engines and Systems?

Blending metals such as aluminium and titanium are critical features of the 3D printer, resulting in very light components. These lightweight components are better suited to stay intact during the gruesome launch experience. 

Traditionally, parts of a rocket engine are joined using welding and other methods, leaving room for weakness. By printing the whole engine at once, they remove all possibilities of weak joints and components. Once ready, the 3D engine will be fitted into a launch vehicle – a rocket measuring 19m meant to deliver satellites into space. 

Launches will occur from the Sutherland spaceport, which received planning permission to develop from the Highland Council. Scotland’s space industry participants are vying for planning permission, but only the Sutherland site currently has the go-ahead in the UK. 

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