, the Edinburgh-based space technologies company, has built Skyprint 2 — the largest hybrid printer of its kind in Europe — to optimise the speed and efficiency of manufacturing rocket parts.
By allowing printing and machining on the same bed, this machine will drastically reduce process complexity, cost and printing time by around 30% compared to other printers. Another key advantage of Skyprint 2 is that it can manufacture via subtraction or addition processes, which means it can repair parts and machine items that were not originally printed.
Following on from Skyprint 1, the bespoke Skyprint 2 is scheduled to start production in Q2 and will offer a cost-effective bi-metallic hybrid manufacturing service to meet the growing demand for small-satellite launches; the machine will also enable Skyrora to take full control of the manufacturing process.
Skyprint 2 will use Directed Energy Deposition (DED) technology to process Inconel, a superalloy that comprises most of the mass of Skyrora’s rocket engines. DED is an additive manufacturing process in which focused thermal energy is used to fuse materials by melting them as they are being deposited.
One of the key features of Skyprint2 is its ‘near net shape’ process of DED, which minimises material usage. With standard bulk methods of manufacturing Inconel alloy engine parts it can take around 10 weeks from concept to production; using Skyprint 2, the time needed to manufacture key rocket engine components has been reduced to only two weeks, thanks to 3-D printing’s direct forming capabilities.
Combined with the increased ‘design dexterity’, which allows for greater changes in design between iterations, Skyprint 2 is ‘radically altering what is possible in hybrid manufacturing services’.
Volodymyr Levykin, Skyrora’s founder and CEO, said: “Skyprint 2 reinforces our ambitions to not only be the first company to launch from UK soil, but also to do so in the most sustainable way possible. By taking greater control of the design and manufacturing process of our parts using our custom-built industry-leading 3-D printing technology, we are taking another crucial step closer to offering a significant space service from our own soil.
“Creating this cost- and time-effective solution encapsulates the innovation and talent that resides at the heart of the UK space industry. As an asset, Skyprint 2 is a real game-changer that will transform Skyrora’s operations and expand the limits of what is possible when it comes to space engineering in general.”