We’re truly witnessing a renaissance in the space industry. As stalwarts such as SpaceX and Blue Origin achieve higher levels of success, an entire industry—known as NewSpace—is swimming in their wake. This collective of innovators is pushing the boundaries of technology, enabling space exploration, Earth observation, and communication in ways that couldn’t have been imagined 50 or even 20 years ago.
Velo3D is Fueling the NewSpace Race
For a more in depth look at how Velo3D is enabling in innovation in the commercial space industry, download our whitepaper.
One of the hallmarks of this industry is its willingness to break from the traditions of more established sectors, particularly in manufacturing. Space and NewSpace companies are leveraging every manufacturing tool at their disposal to quickly build the complex parts they need to drive innovation.
Advanced metal AM systems, especially the end-to-end solution pioneered by Velo3D, are the cornerstone of many of these innovative companies. In this article we’ll look at five reasons why the space industry turns to Velo3D’s advanced metal AM system to achieve the impossible.
Reason #1: Improved Part Performance
For the longest time, the imaginations of engineers bumped up against the realities of manufacturing. Part performance was limited to what could be realistically manufactured by hand or, if a part was being traditionally 3D printed it would undergo the design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) process, which compromised and simplified designs for print.
In Velo3D’s advanced metal AM system, parts can be optimized to meet the high standards the space industry requires. Additionally, Velo3D deploys a catalog of next-generation alloys to improve performance through optimized materials.
Reason #2: Faster Part Iterations and Learning Cycles
With supply chain slowdowns endemic to traditional manufacturing, part iterations are also a challenge. The space industry relies on rapid learning cycles and complex modeling to improve parts quickly, and with months of lead time per iteration it can drastically slow down broader system improvements.
An end-to-end metal AM system like Velo3D’s integrates pre-production design software, manufacturing (printing hardware), and quality assurance into one system, so once new part designs are ready, they can be immediately produced without extensive latency periods.
Reason #3: Manufacturing Complex Geometries
Manufacturing parts such as high-pressure tanks, turbines, and heat exchangers that demand complex geometries and internal channels can be nearly impossible for traditional forms of manufacturing. Even for more conventional AM solutions, if a complex part can be produced, oftentimes they require extensive post-processing to remove support structures to print the part, which in turn threatens part viability and performance.
Velo3D’s proprietary printing process ensures that complex geometries can be achieved without the need for support structures, which enables space companies to design the parts they need rather than compromising designs to accommodate the manufacturer.
Reason #4: Light-weighting and Part Consolidation
In the space industry, one of the biggest considerations is size and weight. When a part is designed and produced using Velo3D’s advanced metal AM system, engineers can achieve highly complex parts with exceedingly thin walls without sacrificing performance.
Additionally, when engineers have access to print parts on a Velo3D system, they have the freedom to combine multiple disparate parts into a singular core structure. By consolidating the design, interfaces and mating surfaces can be eliminated and parts can go from the size of a lunch pail to fitting in the palm of your hand. This process yields lighter unit weight overall while also improving functionality.
Reason #5: Supply Chain Agility
Traditional forms of manufacturing such as casting, welding, brazing and more have dominated the parts production process for more than a century. Unfortunately, these processes are time-consuming, requiring highly skilled labor and complex supply chains to manufacture core parts. For space companies working on hard deadlines for launch dates or contract bids, the prospect of waiting six months to a year for a functional part is untenable.
Velo3D enables an agile, additive-manufacturing-based supply chain through its end-to-end system. Meaning, once a part is designed in the Velo3D system, it can be printed on any Velo machine, anywhere in the world. With a network of contract manufacturers with a global footprint, this supply chain agility enables space companies to receive the parts they need in a matter of weeks, rather than months.
The inventiveness and openness to new avenues for innovation have propelled the space sector to a potential trillion-dollar industry in the next 20 years. Additive manufacturing, and especially the advanced end-to-end AM system pioneered by Velo3D, will be a key part of that growth trajectory.
For more information on how Velo3D advanced metal AM is driving the NewSpace Race, download our whitepaper today.