Space Ambitions Soon To Be Realized
Cape Canaveral in Florida is one of America’s busiest spaceport and soon it will become the new home of a startup company, Relativity Space, that has ambitious plans to have its very own launch site at the Cape for its future 3D-printed rockets. After a successful new deal with the US Air Force, Relativity will modify the site to suit its rocket technology. As of now, Relativity has done 124 test fires of its rocket engine, in pursuit of launching the company’s first rocket by 2020.
Since the way rockets have been built hasn’t really changed in the last 60 years, Relativity aims to upset the entire process of making rockets. The company wants to veer from the traditional way of using the assembly line of machines that are complicated and time-consuming, and workers piecing together the different machine parts. It’s going to automate the entire rocket-building process using giant 3D printers -everything from engines to the propellant tanks.
With headquarters in Los Angeles, Relativity has the largest metal 3D printer by volume, capable of creating parts up to 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Called Stargate, printers like this for manufacturing can produce about 95 percent of the vehicle through 3D-printed automation, while 5 percent will use human interaction – testing, shipping, and very small amounts of manual assembly.
Printers like Stargate are meant to save money by consolidating the parts needed for each vehicle, making incredibly complicated parts in just one piece. The company will be able to produce rockets with 100 times fewer parts than normal. For example, the engine injector and chamber are made of just three 3D-printed parts, when traditionally, such sections would require nearly 3,000 parts.
All the complexity is in the software; It’s able to make shapes of almost any complexity. The design can also quickly be adjusted if needed, simply by changing the software. 3D printing will allow the company to simplify the manufacturing process, shortening the time it takes to build each rocket. The goal is to get to a point where it only takes 60 days to manufacture one vehicle. That is achievable because of the robotic automation and 3D-printing technologies.
Looking To Be Part of Space Exploration in Seattle
3D Composites, 3D printing company in Seattle, has been in the business of supporting the aerospace industry for 30 years. We look forward to being a part of rocket launches in the near future.