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SPEE3D tests 3D printed rocket engine

Additive manufacturing technology business SPEE3D announced conducted a successful hot fire test of its prototype rocket engine at a test site in Darwin in September.

The company’s SPACE3D project focuses on using cold spray Additive Manufacturing (AM) and Advanced Manufacturing methods to manufacture parts for the space industry. The laboratory prototype used in the rocket motor test is the first of a series of rocket engines  and components that will be designed, manufactured, and tested over the next 18 months.

The prototype was designed to harness the power of SPEE3D’s cold spray metal printing technology together with other innovative manufacturing processes that collectively aimsto deliver reusable rocket engines within lead times and costs that are significantly lower compared to using more traditional technologies.

Last year, SPEE3D’s SPACE3D project received $1.25 million in grant funding from the Department of Industry’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI), with an additional $312,000 from the NT Government. Since beginning the project SPEE3D has also received generous in-kind support from Charles Darwin University and RMIT University.

“SPEE3D’s cold spray technology facilitates new ways to design and manufacture demanding space components, potentially more rapidly and at lower cost than incumbent technologies.” said Gary Owen, Chief Space Officer for SPEE3D’s SPACE3D Program. “Our design, manufacturing and test expertise, once proven by events such as successful rocket engine hot fire tests, will position us well to play an important role in the rapidly expanding space industry.”

The company, which sells machines based on a variety of additive manufacturing known as cold spray, said the test was the first in a series of rocket engines and components to be made and tested over the next 18 months.

The founder of a Melbourne company, Next Aero, won the Young Innovator Award at the 2019 Avalon Airshow for his work designing a complex rocket nozzle manufactured using AM. Dr Graham Bell designed and successfully tested an extremely complex aerospike rocket motor nozzle with the potential to deliver up to 25% more payload to orbit. The nozzle incorporates highly complex cooling channels which would have been virtually impossible to manufacture without using AM.

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