Aerospace AMMetal Additive ManufacturingPost-Processing

Stoke Space acquires Solukon’s SFM-AT800-S depowdering system

Utilizing the system for the production of the company's 3D printed copper thrust chambers

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Stoke Space, a US space launch company building some of the world’s most efficient fully and rapidly reusable rockets by 3D printing copper thrust chambers, has chosen Solukon’s SFM-AT800-S depowdering system to further enable automated manufacturing.

Stoke Space acquires Solukon's SFM-AT800-S - utilizing the depowdering system for the company's 3D printed copper thrust chambers.

Both of Stoke’s first and second stages are fully reusable. The second stage, usually discarded in the conventional space industry, can reenter Earth’s atmosphere and land after deploying payloads in space. To enable rapidly reusable vehicles, both of Stoke’s first and second-stage engine thrust chambers are additively manufactured in-house. These thrust chambers feature regenerative cooling channels and built-in manifolds. These features and internal cavities are typically difficult to depowder.

The SFM-AT800-S is Solukon’s flagship machine and is one of the most widely used automated powder removal systems in the industry. The system can handle metal parts with maximum dimensions of 600 x 600 x 600mm, weighing up to 300kg. Based on the unique Solukon Smart Powder Recuperation technology SPR, the SFM-AT800-S uses targeted vibration and unlimited 2-axis rotation in a protected atmosphere to get unfused powder out of metal laser melted parts fully automatically.

Stoke 3D prints their thrust chambers using a special copper alloy with high conductivity to enable maximum reusability. Copper powder, however, makes complete powder removal more challenging due to its tendency to stick and clump within the tight regen channels. Stoke uses a high-frequency knocker provided as an add-on in the Solukon system to loosen trapped copper powder bulks from the internal channels of the parts. Stoke also applies an ultrasonic vibration system to enhance the flow of the copper powder, which is directly connected to the component.

Stoke Space acquires Solukon's SFM-AT800-S - utilizing the depowdering system for the company's 3D printed copper thrust chambers.
Stoke engine hot-fire test. Credit: Stoke.

Solukon’s depowdering software, SPR-Pathfinder, can also optimize the depowedering of complex geometries by analyzing the CAD file of the part – using the digital twin to calculate the motion pattern.

“We chose Solukon for their industry-leading capability in automating depowdering of complex parts,” said Zach Sander, Head of Engine and Fluid Systems at Stoke Space. “Regeneratively cooled rocket engine thrust chambers are notoriously difficult to depowder, and we wanted to ensure we had a robust machine to reliably depowder these difficult copper components.”

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