Solukon’s automated depowdering system for large 3D printed parts becomes part of the Launcher fleet

Solukon’s automated depowdering system for extraordinary large and heavy rocket parts has found a new home at Launcher’s facilities. Launcher is an aerospace company that develops one of the most efficient rockets and orbit transfer vehicles to deliver small satellites to orbit.

Well-known for its partnerships with additive manufacturing companies AMCM Gmbh, EOS and Velo3D, the aerospace company is an advocate of AM when it comes to production of complex, (large) and heavy parts. Launcher enhances its production capabilities with the Solukon’s depowdering system SFM-AT1000-S.

Designed for extraordinary large parts, the machine enables to completely free rocket engines and combustion chambers from powder. Solukon has started producing such type of machines two years ago, following an enquiry from machine manufacturer AMCM GmbH. The machine is based on Solukon’s SPR® technology (Smart Powder Recuperation). It enables the removal of residual and clogged powder from metal laser melted parts within a sealed process chamber, using adjustable vibration and automated two-axis part rotation while recovering superfluous powder. Furthermore, programmable rotation of the build plate in two axes allows for unfused metal build material to be completely removed from complex channels and geometries, Solukon recalls.

One of the most important challenges at Launcher is Copper (CuCrZr). Although it helps produce amazing parts, the powder residues tend to clog in cavities and show a sticky behavior. Manual cleaning easily reaches a limitation when we deal with rocket parts with a height up to 1,000 mm weighing several hundred kilograms.  The Solukon SFM-AT1000-S is therefore a great match here as it allows to easily move parts with a size up to 600 x 600 x 1.000 mm (XYZ) with a weight up to 800 kg. Individual control is also possible by using a joystick to move the component flexibly in any direction at variable speed and to save the movement pattern afterwards.

Tim Berry, Launcher’s Head of Manufacturing, explains they “see that automated powder removal is an essential step in the production process. For final heat treatment and Hot Isostatic Pressing all parts must be free of any powder, a special challenge for large and heavy parts with hard-to-access internal channels.” “The SFM-AT1000-S will help to further automize our production process as we achieve reliable and repeatable cleaning results. In addition, we benefit from Solukon’s experience and support when optimizing our fast and forward-thinking production lines”, he adds.

As a reminder, the Digital Factory tool that ensures quality assurance and automation integration of the depowdering process remains optional with this system.

Read a conversation with Solukon’s Cofounder Andreas Hartmann on the potential of automated powder removal systems in the Space industry.

I’m sure pioneers like Launcher will keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in Additive Manufacturing. Likewise, I’m sure we’ll always stand by their side with the ideal depowdering solution”, says Andreas Hartmann, CEO and CTO of Solukon.

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