Hermeus, a company developing hypersonic aircraft for defense and commercial applications aims to accelerate the air travel industry with next generation aircrafts. Founded in 2018, the startup has already received more than $130 million in funding, including a $100 million Series B and contracts with the U.S. Air Force. It also got strong support from NASA and other U.S. government agencies, as well as funding from aerospace innovators like RTX Ventures, the venture capital group of Raytheon Technologies.
At the manufacturing level, the company plans to use metal AM technology to accelerate the high-volume production of aircraft components. “Metal additive manufacturing is a core component of our plan to vertically integrate production,” said Glenn Case, CTO at Hermeus. “As we explore the capabilities of Velo3D’s additive manufacturing technology, we’ll be looking for ways to increase performance, consolidate components, reduce weight of our aircraft, and minimize external dependencies.”
Together with OEM Velo3D, the company has qualified one Sapphire and a large-format Sapphire XC for Inconel 718. Both industrial 3D printers will be used to build parts for Hermeus’ Chimera engine and Quarterhorse aircraft.
As a reminder, Inconel 718 (IN718) is a low cost nickel-based superalloy which is mostly used as a turbine disk material. The superalloy was first used to overcome the poor weldability of superalloys in 1960s. As AM and welding processes are quite similar, operators have been using IN718 with metal AM processes since then, to facilitate the understandings of process-microstructure-property relationships. This might explain the reasons why IN718 is mainly associated with 3D printing/AM technology. We have discussed the use of Inconel 718 in Additive Manufacturing as part of an exclusive feature.
As far as Hermeus’ Chimera engine and Quarterhorse aircraft are concerned, it should be noted that the Chimera engine is a turbine-based combined cycle engine that will power Hermeus’ first aircraft, Quarterhorse, an autonomous aircraft designed to touch high Mach speeds and prove reusability. Quarterhorse’s first flight is planned for 2023.
“Hypersonics is an extremely challenging subset of the aviation industry and at the speeds that Hermeus will achieve, temperature, vibration, and aerodynamics play major factors in the flight of the aircraft. I have no doubt that they will bring their vision to life and make hypersonic commercial flight a reality” Benny Buller, Velo3D CEO and Founder concludes.
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