Additive ManufacturingAerospace AMAM for SpaceMetal Additive Manufacturing

BLT enables LandSpace’s ZQ-3 to ace reusable rocket landing

The Chinese company's recovery-test rocket was made possible by several metal 3D printed parts from BLT

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The private Chinese space company LandSpace achieved a flawless debut of their ZQ-3 VTVL-1 reusable vertical takeoff and landing (VTVL) recovery-test rocket. This mission validated Land Space’s overall scheme for the vertical recovery of the reusable Liquid Oxygen-Methane rocket’s first stage. The success of this attempt by LandSpace was made possible by several AM components 3D printing via the company’s ongoing collaboration with the leading Chinese metal 3D printing company BLT.

The successful recovery test proved the wide-ranging variable-thrust Liquid Oxygen-Methane propulsion system scheme, the compatibility of the rocket control system with engine thrust adjustment characteristics, the accuracy of the guidance and control scheme during the landing phase, and the reliable performance of the rocket’s soft landing cushioning mechanism.

BLT enables LandSpace ZQ-3 to ace reusable rocket landing test, by delivering several key metal 3D printed parts
VTVL-1 Stable Landing (Courtesy Land Space)

The collaboration with BLT ensured the acquisition of crucial experimental data, solidifying LandSpace’s position at the forefront of key technologies for reusable Liquid Oxygen-Methane rockets. BLT is a long-term partner in Land Space’s journey. The collaboration traces back to 2019 when LandSpace foresaw the inherent advantages of metal 3D printing technology in the fabrication and production of Liquid Oxygen-Methane rocket components.

With BLT boasting years of experience in tailored product manufacturing and structural optimization design, coupled with a robust technical research and development framework, the collaboration proved instrumental in expediting component production, cutting production costs, hastening product iterations, and ultimately elevating the overall development efficiency for Land Space. This partnership has evolved, reflecting the deepening and broadening synergy between the two entities committed to pushing the boundaries of 3D printing in aerospace innovation.

BLT enables LandSpace ZQ-3 to ace reusable rocket landing test, by delivering several key metal 3D printed parts
(Courtesy Land Space)

BLT played a pivotal role in the success of the VTVL-1 recovery test arrow by utilizing its metal 3D printing technology to manufacture intricate components within the engine, such as joint elements, igniter mounts, and the intricate free-body section. These components, characterized by intricate and unconventional structures, posed challenges in traditional metal fabrication methods, including prolonged production cycles, difficulties in mold manufacturing, and escalated costs.

Leveraging BLT’s metal 3D printing capabilities not only streamlined the manufacturing process but also resulted in significant cost savings and reduced development timelines. A notable example is the free-body section, which features a complex internal cooling structure. Traditional manufacturing methods struggled to meet the production demands, posing risks to the overall quality. Leveraging metal 3D printing during the production of the free-body section allowed for the seamless integration of its cooling structure, ensuring superior component performance and effectively preventing erosion of the combustion chamber casing.

BLT enables LandSpace ZQ-3 to ace reusable rocket landing test, by delivering several key metal 3D printed parts
BLT-S400 (Courtesy BLT)

The BLT team comprehensively analyzes component characteristics and working conditions, utilizing equipment such as the BLT-S310 and BLT-S400 systems for production. Ultimately, BLT delivered a batch of high-quality components to the client on schedule, showcasing mature technology, efficient automated processes, and high-quality powder. These components underwent rigorous client validation, ultimately playing a crucial role in the triumphant launch of the VTVL-1 recovery test arrow.

Land Space commended the partnership with BLT and anticipated further collaboration with BLT in aerospace: “To better meet the technical demands of our engine, we chose metal 3D printing technology for the production of critical components with exacting quality standards. Recognizing BLT as a frontrunner in additive technology solutions, and excelling in metal 3D printing services, equipment, and powders, we decided to cooperate with BLT. BLT was crucial in reducing production time, expediting deliveries, and supporting our rapid development iterations. ”


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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites and, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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