A Melbourne-based company may have placed Australia at the forefront of the space race after unveiling the world’s largest 3D-printed titanium rocket, so far.
Australia’s Titomic revealed the 5.5-metre rocket, which was built in less than 28 hours, at FormNext, the world’s biggest 3D printing fair, held in Frankfurt on Tuesday,
The rocket is a scaled-down version of a real-size spaceship.
And the company said it now has the capability to build a full-scale space rocket in 165 hours. A rocket of that size and material would normally take years to build.
“It is a game-changer, we can now build objects that you couldn’t think of a couple of weeks ago,” Titomic managing director Jeffrey Lang told AAP.
One of the company’s greatest achievements, however, is the cost-effectiveness of building the 5.5-metre rocket with titanium powder.
“Titanium is widely used in the aerospace and defence industries for its lightweight and high strength,” Mr Lang said.
“However, due to the limited availability because the major supplier is Russia, and the difficulty of manufacturing with traditional methods, it is commonly too expensive to use.”
Today, many high-profile aerospace organisations such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX use materials that are twice the weight and a quarter the strength of titanium.
By shifting to supply chains of titanium powder that can be printed with their registered technology, the company argues that Australia can lead the way in this new industrial revolution, as it hosts 280 million tonnes of titanium.
Titomic’s project was born out of a 2007 study, as the federal government searched for a way to capitalise on Australia’s rich titanium resources rather than simply exporting the metal.
“Titanium rockets made with our Titomic Kinetic Fusion technology open new possibilities for economic payload delivery to space,” Mr Lang said.
This revolutionary way of manufacturing products with a 3D printer is estimated to reduce material wastage by up to 80 per cent as well as leave a much smaller carbon footprint.