Trumpf, located in Ditzingen, Germany, and European space-travel start-up The Exploration Company, based in Munich, Germany, and Bordeaux, France, are cooperating on the construction of core components for spacecraft for missions in the Earth’s orbit and to the moon. The Exploration Company will utilise Additive Manufacturing machines from Trumpf to build core components of the Huracán and Mistral engines for the Nyx Earth and Nyx Moon spacecraft in Planegg near Munich, starting in spring 2024. The goal of the project is to make the Huracán engine reusable and refuellable in orbit using 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,” shared Hélène Huby, CEO of The Exploration Company.
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The startup company plans to launch a space capsule to orbit the Earth for several months in its first mission, expected to occur in 2026. Starting in 2028, further missions are planned to go to the moon. The spacecraft will initially carry freight, but in the long term, passengers will also fly on board.
The Exploration Company has raised €65 million from both private and public investors. The company employs around 120 people at its sites. Commercial space travel is considered a growth industry. Experts predict that the global market for the production of aircraft and spacecraft will reach €740 billion by 2023.
Aerospace companies rely on Additive Manufacturing
“With our 3D printing technology, we are driving the commercialisation of the space-travel industry. If you want to be successful in the space-travel industry today, you have to use Additive Manufacturing,” stated Tobias Brune, who is responsible for the Additive Manufacturing business at Trumpf.
Designers are able to use Additive Manufacturing to combine entire assemblies into a single component, saving weight and reducing complexity when every gram saved in weight ultimately reduces fuel costs. Moreover, less complex components reduce the cost of safety tests before the rocket launch, which in turn increases the probability of a successful space mission.
With the help of AM technology, The Exploration Company is able to save valuable raw materials by utilising only essential materials. Previously, when aerospace companies would produce components using traditional manufacturing methods like stamping, forging, and casting, it would result in a lot of waste material.
Additive Manufacturing enables rapid prototype development, which usually takes a lot of time in the aerospace industry. With the help of design software, users can easily make improvements to the prototype. Once the design is finalised, the AM machine can then produce the new prototype within a few hours. With conventional manufacturing methods, producing of some of these complex geometries would not be possible, or it would take several weeks or months to produce them.