Acquisitions, Mergers & PartnershipsAerospace AM

TRUMPF and The Exploration Company partner to 3D print spacecraft components

"If you want to be successful in the space travel industry today, you have to use additive manufacturing."

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TRUMPF, a German metal AM technology company, and The Exploration Company, a European space-travel start-up, have partnered to produce core components for spacecraft for missions in the Earth’s orbit, and to the moon, using 3D printing. As early as spring 2024, the Exploration Company will use 3D printers from the laser specialist to print core components of the Huracán and Mistral engines for the Nyx Earth and Nyx Moon spacecraft in Planegg, near Munich. The partnership aims to make the Huracán engine reusable and refuelable in orbit with bio-methane and oxygen.

“Our aim is to offer space missions more cost-effectively than was previously possible. Our spacecraft can benefit from TRUMPF’s manufacturing and application expertise. TRUMPF has decades of experience in the production of high-precision components,” said Hélène Huby, CEO of The Exploration Company. The start-up plans to send a space capsule to orbit the Earth for several months in an initial mission in 2026. Starting in 2028, further missions are planned to go to the moon. The spacecraft will initially carry freight, but people are also expected to fly on board in the long term.

“With our 3D printing technology, we are driving the commercialization of the space travel industry. If you want to be successful in the space travel industry today, you have to use additive manufacturing,” said Tobias Brune, who is responsible for the additive manufacturing business at TRUMPF. Designers use additive manufacturing to combine entire assemblies into a single component – saving weight and reducing complexity, reducing the cost of safety tests before the rocket launch, and increasing the probability of a successful mission in space.

Additive manufacturing enables rapid prototype development, which typically takes a lot of time in the aerospace industry. Using design software, users can make improvements to the prototype at the click of a mouse, and the 3D printer can then produce the prototype within a few hours. With conventional manufacturing methods, the production of some of these complex geometries would either not be possible, or would take up to several weeks or months.

Composites AM 2024

746 composites AM companies individually surveyed and studied. Core composites AM market generated over $785 million in 2023. Market expected to grow to $7.8 billion by 2033 at 25.8% CAGR. This new...

Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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