CSIRO, Manufacturing News, Space Manufacturing

Multi-metal 3D printer to boost Australia’s aerospace manufacturing

The commissioning of a new multi metal 3D printer in Melbourne as part of the iLAuNCH Trailblazer initiative is set to make space missions more affordable and efficient by creating lighter, faster and more robust aerospace components.

The high-tech printer is the only one of its kind in Australia.

“This capability is the first of its kind as a production machine in Australia, in fact the southern hemisphere, and iLAuNCH is pleased to open up new manufacturing possibilities for locally made products,” said iLAuNCH Trailblazer chief technology officer Dr Joni Sytsma.

The Nikon SLM-280 (Selective Laser Melting) at CSIRO’s Lab22 facility will print metals side-by-side in one continuous print.

The technology is particularly ideal for aerospace and space applications, where high performance and lightweight materials are crucial design factors.

“Australian companies manufacturing satellites and rockets now have a real advantage to optimise their designs and improve performance, all made with a reduced lead time right here in Melbourne,” said Sytsma.

It provides engineers with design flexibility to consolidate parts, reducing both mass and cost, enabling strategic weight decisions as required.

“We anticipate that the additional capabilities of this technology can also bring forth novel super alloys that are capable of maintaining ultra-high strength at the ultra-high temperatures that hypersonic vehicles need to survive, with a view to hypersonic air travel in the future,” said Sytsma.

This technology and its advanced manufacturing capability are going to enable the development of novel aerospace products that are of high value to the whole ecosystem.

“We welcome Australian researchers and industry to access this technology for ultra-high performance applications at CSIRO’s Lab22 Innovation Centre, one of Australia’s leading centres for metallic additive manufacturing, located at CSIRO in Clayton Victoria,” said Dr Cherry Chen, CSIRO’s senior research scientist.

The enhanced multi-metal version of the SLM-280 builds upon the internationally acclaimed standard model, featuring:

  • a monolithic thrust chamber for a rocket propulsion engine with a unique lattice structure with CellCore GmbH, an engineering firm from Berlin.
  • a hydraulic valve block with the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, achieving 66 per cent size reduction and 76 per cent weight reduction.
  • a gooseneck bracket for reduced buy to fly ratio of 17 down to 1.5, and weight reduction of 31 per cent with ASCO, a Belgian aerospace company.

“Delivering Laser Powder Bed Fusion technology to generate a truly functionally graded material component to CSIRO marks the first time the technology has been taken out of Germany.

This technology sets a new cornerstone in the aerospace and defence and space industry for what is possible,” said Donald Godfrey, Nikon SLM Solutions, global director, business development for aviation and defence.

For iLAuNCH Trailblazer projects, SLM 280 technology will make potential space missions more affordable and efficient by creating lighter, faster and more robust space components.

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