Relativity Space, the first company in the world to use 3D printing technology to produce rockets, creates the largest metal 3D printers for its projects. Now the American company has presented the latest version of its proprietary production platform – Stargate 4th Generation. The 3D printer will form the basis for the development and target production of the Terran R – a reusable rocket capable of carrying 20,000 kg to the Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

Unlike other machines that use the 3D printing method at work, Stargate 3D printers makes objects with the head positioned horizontally in relation to the surface being built. For this purpose, Relativity develops its own software and machine learning techniques to enable 3D printing of more complex and larger metal applications with simultaneous increased speed. The company also says its machines are capable of printing a rocket with 100 times fewer parts in a matter of months.

Bulky products that are designed to fly will inevitably be 3D printed,” said Tim Ellis, Co-Founder and CEO of Relativity Space – “the lighter the product, the better it performs, and 3D printing is also faster and more cost-effective with each subsequent upgrade. The pace of AM progress is high and we are still at the beginning of what can be achieved with additive technologies. We see 3D printing as an automation technology that can change the pace of manufacturing innovation, so we invested in building our own proprietary technology system right from the start. Stargate 3D printers are designed to unlock rapid iteration, which opens up opportunities for innovation in large-scale manufacturing products. What would take traditional aerospace manufacturers many years will be cut to a few months thanks to the highly flexible, scalable and automated process made possible by software-driven manufacturing.

The 4th Generation Stargate 3D Printer has significantly improved printing speed, offering 7 times faster performance than previous generation devices and up to 12 times faster than alternative metal 3D printing systems on the market. In addition, the use of horizontal orientation of the print head increases the volume of 3D prints, being able to create objects up to 36 meters long and over 7 meters wide, which also results in 55 times greater efficiency compared to the third generation machines.

Relativity uses proprietary, high-performance materials in its work – the Terran R rocket will be the first in a series of products to benefit from the use of lighter materials and reduced production time, which will significantly reduce costs for customers downstream.

Most of the Terran R components will be printed at Relativity’s new facility, “Wormhole”, covering over 93,000 square meters in Long Beach, USA. The Aeon R engines for the Terran R will continue to be produced at the company’s second factory in Long Beach. Wormhole is the former production facility of the Boeing C-17. At full capacity expected, each 4th Generation Stargate printer is capable of producing 4 Terran R rockets per year.


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