3 mins read 03 Oct 2019

Gilmour and Titomic to Explore 3D-printed materials for launch vehicles

Two Australian companies have set out to collaborate in using 3D-printed materials to produce components of high-performance rockets.

A Strategic Statement of Intent has been signed between Gilmour Space Technologies and Titomic Limited (ASX: TTT) in early October 2019, indicating the two Australian-based companies are planning to work together in producing components for orbital launch vehicles. The new materials and components being developed will utilise 3D-printing technology and improve the manufacturing efficiency and productivity of Gilmour's rocket program. 

“Gilmour Space is developing new launch vehicles to support today’s global small satellite market, and this partnership could see us leveraging on Titomic's innovative manufacturing processes to produce lighter and stronger components for our orbital launch vehicles,” said the company’s co-founder and chief operating officer, James Gilmour.

“I am excited to get started on our joint tech-development program. Between the Gilmour Space focus on launch economics and the scale and quality performance of Titomic Kinetic Fusion capabilities, I am expecting significant implications for the launch vehicle community,” said Titomic’s chief technology officer, Nathanael Miller.

Gilmour Space is a private Australian rocket company that is developing new capabilities for launching small satellites into Low Earth Orbits. ​Founded by two brothers, this Queensland-based startup is now one of Australia’s leading space companies, pioneering new and innovative hybrid propulsion technologies.

Gilmour's One Vision Rocket

Gilmour Space Technology has developed its One Vision rocket - a 9-meter tall 'Ariel-Class' single-stage launch vehicle capable of carrying 150kg payloads into sub-orbital space. In July 2019, Gilmour Space attempted to launch One Vision suborbital rocket to flight test the company's orbital-class hybrid rocket engine and demonstrate their mobile launch capability.

At T-9 seconds to launch, the test rocket suffered an anomaly that resulted in the premature end of this mission. Initial investigations show that a pressure regulator in the oxidiser tank had failed to maintain the required pressure, and this anomaly resulted in some damage to the tank and rocket. There was no explosion due to the safe nature of hybrid rocket engines, and no observable damage to the engine.

Rocket engineering is all about testing, failing, learning and rebuilding - said CEO Adam Gilmour.

Gilmour's One Vision Rocket. Credit: Gilmour Space Technology.

Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D-printing, is a transformative approach to industrial production that enables the creation of lighter, stronger parts and systems. 

3D-printing is fast becoming an enabling technology for many innovative space companies like Gilmour Space, which reportedly test-launched one of the world’s first rockets using 3D printed rocket fuel in 2016.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with innovative companies like Titomic to help build a world-class space supply chain here in Australia, in line with the Australian Space Agency’s strategy and goals,” said Mr. Gilmour.

“Gilmour Space and Titomic share a commercially strategic vision to deliver unique, advanced technologies which will ensure the growth of the Australian space eco-system,” added Jeff Lang, managing director of Titomic. “Their plans for lower-cost access for launch satellites into space using affordable, high-performance rockets, combined with Titomic’s industrial-scale additive manufacturing capability of superalloys from our Melbourne Bureau will help to realise this goal.”