Tuesday’s marvels of engineering: Mass production of metal 3D printed rocket engines

Manufacturing space components is a billion-dollar industry that forecasters claim is set to experience strong growth in demand over the next five years. A challenge, though, is the long lead times to develop production-ready rocket engines.

One solution is additive manufacturing. The Modern Manufacturing Initiative is looking into SPEE3D’s metal cold spray technology to print metal parts 100 to 1000 times faster than other metal 3D printing methods. This technology prints metal parts on-demand at a competitive cost.

Thus, the Modern Manufacturing Initiative announced SPEE3D will receive $1.25 million in funding from the Australian Government’s MMI ‘Space’ Translation Stream grant, with an additional $312,000 in funding from the Northern Territory Government to ensure that SPEE3D’s ‘SPAC3D’ project takes off.

copper nozzle
Source: Spee3D

SPEE3D previously demonstrated the technology’s capability to produce rocket engine components. For example, in just three hours, its large-format WarpSPEE3D printer produced a 17.9kg Copper Rocket Nozzle Liner at a cost of less than $1,000 USD.

With their ‘SPAC3D’ project, SPEE3D will aim to pioneer the manufacturing of high-quality but inexpensive metal 3D printed rocket engines for space.

The Modern Manufacturing Initiative is designed to help Australian manufacturers to scale up and create jobs to lift Australia’s manufacturing capability, drive collaboration, and identify new opportunities to access domestic and global supply chains. It provides Australian businesses with funding to support projects that translate research into commercial outcomes. SPEE3D’s ‘SPAC3D’ project offers Australia’s fledgling space industry the opportunity to become the world’s leading manufacturer and exporter of rocket engines.

 “The Government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative is all about backing our manufacturers to be more competitive, resilient and able to take on new domestic and global markets. This matched government funding will help Effusiontech (SPEE3D) to grow its business and create jobs, while also spurring further investment in the manufacturing sector and cementing Australia’s reputation as a nation that creates high-value products,” states Christian Porter, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology.

Mass production of metal 3D printed rocket engines
Source: Spee3d

Northern Territory Chief Minister, Michael Gunner hailed SPEE3D as a local success story. “This is another big leg up for SPEE3D who are taking the advanced manufacturing world by storm – all the way from the Top End. We are proud to back SPEE3D through our Local Jobs Fund, they are a true testament to the Territory, and its projects like SPEE3D that strengthen us as Australia’s comeback capital.”

The next stage for SPEE3D’s greenlit ‘SPAC3D’ project will be hot-fire testing and validating the usefulness of additively manufactured rocket engines for commercial space vehicles.