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Ursa Major launches Lynx AM solution for solid rocket motor production

Leveraging 3D printing to manufacture multiple motors that promise to outperform legacy systems

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Ursa Major, an independent rocket propulsion provider and a critical player in building the defense industrial base in the United States, has introduced Lynx, its latest approach to designing and manufacturing solid rocket motors (SRM). According to the company, Lynx redefines a market plagued by a broken supply chain and an overextended industrial base. With Lynx, Ursa Major offers a revolutionary solution to America’s SRM shortage with a faster, more affordable process that leverages 3D printing to manufacture multiple motors that promise to outperform legacy systems.

Traditional SRM providers rely on production lines that are difficult to re-tool, expensive to ramp up, and are dependent on a significant workforce to operate. As a leader in advanced manufacturing, Ursa Major has taken a new approach. Lynx introduces flexible and scalable manufacturing to an industry currently constrained by outdated processes. Instead of inefficient, platform-specific propellent requirements, Lynx offers a collaborative solution for energetics.

Flexible, adaptable production units are at the core of Ursa Major’s Lynx process. These units leverage additive manufacturing and a product-agnostic tooling system to rapidly produce multiple scalable SRM systems, simultaneously, without expensive and time-consuming re-tooling or retraining. That flexibility extends to propellants, where an agnostic approach to energetics allows Ursa Major to work directly with the Department of Defense, as well as incumbent SRM manufacturers and innovators.

Ursa Major launches Lynx AM solution to produce multiple solid rocket motors that promise to outperform legacy systems.
Additively manufactured small motor cases and components for tactical missile applications.

“Ursa Major is offering a new way to scale production of SRMs,” said Joe Laurienti, Founder and CEO of Ursa Major. “Lynx meets the defense industry’s need for a faster, cheaper, scalable, and flexible SRM production process that results in better-performing solid rocket motors. We’ve adapted our extensive experience in additive manufacturing, materials development, and propulsion production to the most pressing problems facing the SRM industry. The result is an adaptable manufacturing process that is designed to mass produce multiple systems, rapidly switching from one model to another, producing reliable SRMs quickly and at scale, while leaving room to collaborate across the industry on energetics.”

According to data from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, depleted inventories of munitions like Javelins, Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS), and Stingers that rely on SRMs will take between five and 18 years to replace if the country continues to rely on slow, outdated production techniques. These production rates are insufficient to supply America’s allies while deterring adversaries.

Lynx will restore inventories with SRMs that are simpler and faster to produce, with higher anticipated performance for the warfighter. Advantages include those of production capability and scalability: one AM machine can print over 1,650 man-portable motor casings in a year. In contrast, the current surge production rate for Javelin is only 2,100 per year; adaptability: “one-click” changeover to different casings with one additive machine; relevance: Ursa Major’s approach applies to many motors ranging from two to 22.5 inches in diameter. This size range includes many of the most commonly used missile systems, like Stingers, GMLRS, and air defense systems; common propellant: Ursa Major designed Lynx SRMs to carry more propellant using the same engine footprint – making it poised to outperform legacy motor systems. Additionally, the motor design is intended to allow for common propellants used across multiple applications. This approach could address supply chain challenges often associated with developing bespoke propellants for each individual motor application and could enable increased collaboration with other industry partners; and lower costs and fewer parts: Ursa Major has reduced complex and labor-intensive manufacturing processes to significantly reduce part count and simplify and shorten the assembly process.

Ursa Major is currently developing the core technology with the intent to scale the product to multiple motor sizes and applications over the next year. Due to recent continued consolidation in the rocket motor industry, many defense contractors are reportedly looking for an alternative to relying on purchasing motor systems from competitors.

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Edward Wakefield

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

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