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Australian firm builds 3D printed titanium rocket

Science & Tech

The space race is now being disputed by private companies and a Melbourne-based company may have placed Australia at the forefront after unveiling the largest 3D-printed titanium rocket.

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Australian public company Titomic, which got its start through the Innovyz program in South Australia, showed attendees to FormNext, the world’s biggest 3D printing fair held in Frankfurt on Tuesday, a 5.5-metre rocket built in less than 28 hours.

The rocket is a scaled version of the a real-size spaceship, and the company claims to have the the capability to build a full-scale space rocket in 165 hours.

It is understood that a rocket of that size and material could take years’ worth of work 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 rocket with titanium powder.

“Titanium is widely used in the aerospace and defence industries for its light weight and high strength,” Lang said.

“However, due to the limited availability because the major supplier is Russia, and the difficulty 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.

Titonic’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,” Lang claimed.

This revolutionary way of manufacturing products with a 3D printer is estimated to reduce material wastage by up to 80 per cent and leave a much smaller carbon footprint.

-AAP

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