‘Stargate’ 3D Metal Printer Promises Space Travel Breakthroughs
For a while now, 3D printing has had an impact on aerospace applications and tech. From waste solutions to new materials, 3D printing has been a powerful ally. Naturally, companies are looking to develop their own printers to aid in the creation of their own technologies. That’s where Relativity Space comes in. The company has set its sights on developing a process that can manufacture a rocket from raw material to flight in less than 60 days. The company has stated that they plan to use the Stargate printer, supposedly the largest metal printer in the world, to achieve this.
Relativity Space has stated that the goal behind their use of 3D printing is “scaling and sustaining an interplanetary society”. Founded in 2015, the company’s backers include Mark Cuban and Y Combinator. The company raised $10 million dollars for their operations and they have already shown that their printer can manage to print a 7-foot-wide and 14-foot-tall metal fuel tank. Currently, they are looking into developing stronger alloys for space applications.
The Stargate Printer
The Stargate 3D printer uses laser-mounted Kuka robotic arms to manufacture parts. It uses up an aluminum wire that feeds into the focal point of the laser to create the actual objects. As mentioned earlier, the company is looking to diversify their materials range. This project uses the company’s combined experience, particularly that of its co-founder and CTO.
The company has set it sights on an ambitious endeavour: building rockets on mars using their technology. They have already tested their reusable rocket 5 times and are planning a manned spaceflight for 2018. Their Sheppard spacecraft has over 400 3D printed parts. By 2020 they hope to 3D print a 90-foot-tall, 7-foot-wide rocket with a $10 million cost per launch.
Relativity Space’s CEO, Tim Ellis, has worked in the aerospace industry previously. He was an employee at Blue Origin for 2 years where he introduced the concept of 3D printing into their operations. Similarly, Jordan Noone, Relativity’s CTO, worked at SpaceX for a year and a half along with his time at Blue Origin as an intern. Needless to say, the company is in some very experienced hands.
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