AMCM to Supply 3D Printer to Orbex for Rapid Rocket Building
Orbex has commissioned Additive Manufacturing Customized Machines to build the largest industrial 3D printer in Europe, allowing the innovative UK based
Orbex has commissioned Additive Manufacturing Customized Machines to build the largest industrial 3D printer in Europe, allowing the innovative UK based space launch company to rapidly print complex rocket engines in-house. AMCM will deliver a complete printing suite with post processing machinery and ‘Machine Vision’ systems, providing automatic imaging-based inspection of printed components. To accommodate the new machinery, Orbex is expanding its factory floor space by an additional 1,000 square meters. The custom made, large volume 3D printer will allow Orbex to print more than 35 large scale rocket engine and main stage turbopump systems annually, as the company scales up its production capabilities for launches.
The 3D printing system will print rocket parts using a custom blend of metals including titanium and aluminium to create a lightweight system designed to withstand the temperature and pressure extremes of spaceflight. Orbex will print components such as rocket engines as a single piece, eliminating the weaknesses which can arise from joining and welding.
The 3D printed rocket components will be critical parts of Orbex's launch vehicle, a 19-metre long "microlauncher" rocket, designed to deliver small satellites into polar orbits around the Earth. Planning permission was granted for Orbex’s home spaceport, Space Hub Sutherland, at the A’Mhoine peninsula in Sutherland in August 2020. The A’Mhoine site is currently the only UK spaceport to receive planning permission, with construction expected to begin in 2021 and the first orbital launch expected in 2022.
Uniquely for a commercial rocket, Prime is fueled by bio-propane, a clean-burning, renewable fuel which reduces CO2 emissions by 90% compared to kerosene-based fuels. The Prime rocket was designed to be re-usable, incorporating a novel recovery and reusability system. The rocket has also been designed to leave zero debris in orbit around the Earth.
Orbex is a UK-based spaceflight company with headquarters, production and testing facilities in Scotland, and design and testing facilities in Denmark.