Orbex commissioned AMCM [Additive Manufacturing Customized Machines] building what it says will be the largest industrial 3D printer in Europe to print rocket engines. The specific monetary value of the contract was not disclosed, but Orbex described it as a multi-million pound deal in a Feb. 24 announcement. The deal comes after a series of pressure attempts.
UK-based space company Orbex said the bespoke printer will enable it to print more than 35 large main stage rocket engines and turbo pump systems annually. The 3D printing system prints rocket parts using a custom mix of metals, including titanium and aluminum.
The 3D-printed rocket components will be part of Orbex’s Prime launcher, a 19-meter microlauncher rocket for small satellites. Prime runs on biopropane and is designed to be reusable. The first orbital launch from a spaceport in Scotland is planned for 2022.
“While our rocket engines and other critical systems are pretty mature after years of testing, a large in-house 3D printing system like this one gives us far greater speed and flexibility as we ramp up production,” said Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex. “This means that we can iterate and increase performance. In the longer term, as we prepare for multiple product launches per year, we will have better control over our costs and our supply chain. After extensive trials, the results of AMCM were very successful and we are confident that we have made the right choice of partner. “