iLaunch Trailblazer to 3D print hypersonic space launch structures


The iLAuNCH Trailblazer project, universities and industry partners are to establish a manufacturing facility to utilise additive manufacturing techniques to print more durable satellites and hypersonic space vehicle structures.

The Innovative Launch, Automation, Novel Materials, Communications and Hypersonics (iLAuNCH) programme, funded by the Department of Education, has linked with South Australian universities and Adelaide-based advanced manufacturer VPG Innovation, part of the Stärke-AMG group, to support industry with rapid 3D printing of metals for space structures.

Partners in this iLAuNCH Trailblazer programme include the Future Industries Institute at the University of South Australia (UniSA) University of Southern Queensland, CSIRO and The Australian National University.

iLAuNCH Trailblazer Executive Director Darin Lovett said: “This important project is well underway in one of our key focus areas – additive manufacturing.

“Increasing the availability of custom structures, which are space-ready, will support the growing space sector.

“The partnership will also support a world-class Australian sovereign manufacturing capability that will create new jobs, alongside a highly trained workforce, leading to global exports within the space industry and other markets.”

Group CEO and Co-founder of Stärke-AMG Al Jawhari said the project would support an increase of VPG employees and the upskilling of current ones in the area of AM for space applications.

He said: “This partnership reflects our commitment to fostering innovation and cultivating sovereign capability on a national level.”

The new facility will utilise additive manufacturing through Electron Beam Melting (EBM) of metals.

The EBM process takes place in a vacuum, allowing for a high temperature in a non-oxygenated environment, which relieves internal stresses and results in more resilient, flexible parts.

The design freedoms allowed by additive manufacturing methods such as 3D printing provide designers of space objects with immense opportunities to optimise parts for performance by removing the limitations imposed by traditional manufacturing methods.

The iLAuNCH programe will receive $50 million of federal funding over four years, alongside a further $130 million from universities. The net economic benefit of the $180 million investment is expected to be $3.6 billion by 2040.

Picture: iLAuNCH

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