These Engineers Want to 3D Print an Entire Rocket in 60 Days

These Engineers Want to 3D Print an Entire Rocket in 60 Days


Stargate is the world’s largest metal 3D printer
entirely built and designed in-house. The core of it includes three robot arms — one
of which is doing printing — and the other two are doing post post-processing. This is a six degree of freedom industrial
robot arm so it can move anywhere within about a 14 foot radius of its center. Right now the biggest parts we can make are
nine foot diameter and about 15 feet tall. And our printers are only getting bigger over
time. We aim to go from print to launchpad in less
than 60 days. We’re in an exciting time for spaceflight
innovation. There’s SpaceX’s reusable rockets, trips
to the farside of the moon, NASA’s commercial crew program is finally getting underway. And there’s a startup in LA’s aerospace
hub that’s on a mission to completely 3D print a rocket. We met up with one of their co-founders for
a look inside their operations. My name is Jordan Noone. I’m co-founder and chief technology officer
at Relativity. Me and Tim actually met when we were students. We’ve known each other for almost 10 years now. He graduated went to Blue Origin. I graduated went to Space X. Both Tim and I saw the promise of 3D printing
and we wanted to see the advantage of that applied to an entire rocket. But this isn’t the desktop 3D printing you’re
used to seeing us cover here at Seeker. This is a different type of additive manufacturing,
where an entire assembly line can be built around machines that use powerful lasers to
create industrial parts. There’s two main advantages that we see by
introducing the printing process to rocketry. The first one is reducing the part count on
the rockets. Traditionally rockets can have up to 100,000
thousand parts on them and we want to reduce that to about a thousand. The second area is in flexible manufacturing. When you have traditional manufacturing you end up with a factory full of very expensive tooling. By introducing 3D printing as a baseline to
the manufacturing process, you now have a flexible tool rather than a fixed tool. And that makes it much easier to change and
modify our designs, especially compared to any one else in the industry. While 3D printing has been explored by others
in aerospace for years now, Relativity tells us they’re doing something different. Often other companies will take a traditionally
manufactured assembly and look at each piece of it and try to figure out which one is best
applicable to printing and then print that traditionally designed part. For Relativity, it all starts from the ground
up. Stargate starts when a part is still on a computer and so in a digital environment
called CAD or computer aided design. Most of the rocket is basically just a system
to carry a fuel and dispense fuel. And so for that, to make sure you have like
the lightest system possible, you wanna make sure that wherever you move your fluids inside
your rocket which are liquid oxygen or your fuel. You want to do so super efficiently. Fluid flow can be harder to predict. So that’s when we use tools like a CFD which
is computational fluid dynamics and that’s basically asking the computer to kind of predict
the way that a flow of a certain fluid will move through a manifold and distribute itself
evenly. By doing that in a computer we’re able to
iterate really quickly so we can say hey how does my flow behave if I have a one inch hole
and it’ll tell you and then you move that by like maybe half an inch and you try different
things. And from that geometry you’re able to basically
tell the printer what it is you wanted to make. Just being able to maybe print three different
designs using the exact same tooling the exact same printer allows you to just kind of bake
that into the process, that kinda trial and error. And to make these future parts, Relativity
leans in on some key printing techniques. Stargate uses a direct energy deposition method
where you’re actually feeding a wire into a melting pool and moving that process around. Stargate prints the majority of the structural
components on the rocket. And that includes not only the propellant
tanks but the structural attachments, the payload encapsulation fairing and all of the pieces
that aren’t the engines on the rocket. One of the things that makes our tanks special
is our ability to 3D print them and we’re able to 3D print them in one piece which gives us kind of like good confidence in our
ability to be completely leak proof. When we talk about tank we actually mean like
a tank that can hold both liquid oxygen and liquid methane and so that’s usually generally
something you either put two tanks with or have some kind of complex divider you insert to separate the two propellants. That is one of the great advantages for us in that we’re able to print both of those tanks as one part. On the smaller scale that we use for the engines
and other smaller components, we use a methodology called DMLS or direct metal laser sintering
and that has become pretty commonplace across the industries. And that is done within a bed of powder. That bed powder is laid flat and then a laser
locally melts material where you want to build up your finished part. This process repeats itself, powder and laser,
until the part is finished, which could be as many as 10,000 layers. Here is a version of one of our printed domes. These domes represent the end caps that will
be on the ends of the propellant tanks on our rocket. There’s a variety of other equipment out on
the shop floor here including Stargate in the back, we have CNC Mills, heat treat furnaces and
a variety of equipment that supports the manufacturing not only for the rocket but for making the
3D printers as well. And another key element of Relativity’s
production model is automation. We have a patent that covers the real time
controls during the printing process and that patent covers novel techniques for applying
machine learning and A.I. The control station is here on my left then. But it’s mostly for monitoring now. So you can manually move the arms but traditionally
these are moved in an entire automated manner where you’re feeding the part designed essentially
to it piece by piece so it knows which parts of it to add at once. Once you know how you want the robot to move
during the printing process you have to be ready to do all of the dynamic controls and
feedback. We collect enough data both on what we’re
putting into the printers and what’s coming out of them in order to correlate that and
come up with control loops that can maintain the very high quality prints in a way that
we could not predict just on our own. This killer combo of automation, machine learning,
and 3D printing promises to deliver a new path for spaceflight. Our printing
technology has surpassed even where sci-fi has put some parts of technology which is often surprising to see. Aeon one is a fully 3D printed rocket engine
fueled by liquid oxygen and liquid methane. It is entirely printed in only three parts
and that is a testament to the part reduction that is achievable through the printing process. A similar engine with a similar internal configuration
could take up to three thousand parts when traditionally manufactured and we can make
them not only in three parts, but print those parts in only nine days. There’s still plenty of work ahead before
these engines are ready for their first official launch, but NASA is paying close attention. They’ve recently inked a 20 year partnership
with the Stennis Space Center for future testing. We’ve had over 100 hot fires of that under
a variety of revisions constantly modifying and improving the performance of it as we’ve
gone through that test campaign. The rocket that we’re selling is seven foot
diameter and one hundred and five feet tall. It weighs about one hundred and twenty thousand
pounds at take off and by weight it’s ninety five percent printed. This rocket is catching contracts with satellite
companies, even before it’s ever had its first test. They’re working towards a 2020 orbital test,
with 2021 as their official launch for commercial flights. We see a future where not only do we have
3D printing but we also have an automated production line handling everything that comes out of the printers. 3D printing is the special sauce of Relativity
but I think that comes into play in more ways than people realize. You have the ability to basically change your
designs and explore the design space at a much faster rate. You need kind of a lot of creativity to, and
a bit of audacity to kinda look at these problems that have been solved and try to
approach them in a different way. And so every day you get to sit down and say “oh you know have we tried this? Have we looked at that? You really have kinda blank slate to work with, so it’s a lot of fun. For more science documentaries, check out this one right here. Don’t forget to subscribe and keep coming back to Seeker for more videos.

100 comments

  1. You guys are amazing. I have to say this is by far the biggest most advanced thing ever made too date. I wish when i was there age i would have has the best education to have provided skills self esteem Most of all the drive to work in this so so amasing.
    Have you ever said i was born sadly in a age that did not have the eqipment Most of all the advanced skills training.
    I was born in 71 my dreams were pushed aside dreams shattered from not society but Mother who was physically Beat the shot out me with Electric Power Cable that was removable this left me with huge horse shoe welts in my skin, She was not satisfied with her physical abuse she sent me to Catholic Elementary school in Cloverdale B.C. Canada
    The Catholic church had Nuns who were the teachers. The first 2 months of schooling was for me strange to see this. I was born Baptized Anglican this made the Nuns Angry. They did not like that i was this Religious standing. They got angry with me because i had to study the Catholic churches ways but never aloud me to except blessed wafers and wine.
    I felt let out and being realy young i acted out.
    They would take me down the hall to sports Room. Beat me with Leather Whips to my hands .
    This made me hate. I cant never will forgive the catholic church.

    They are Real fucked up teachings are evil. My name is in time capsule in the main church.

    They are all dead now to old age only peace for me is to know this and make dam sure they know this when i pray they will charge the catholic priest and priests who are there now.

    Hate them for the abuse and a life time of consoling. Burn in hell you scum bag Nuns.

    Take care all you who hit children may you burn in hell forever

  2. Wow now I've seen some things in my life my son is now 18 can you imagine what he will see in his life. This is literally history in the making.

  3. I feel as though the stress along the different axes in a 3D printed metal cylinder would be extremely different. Potentially a failure point, but I do not have the math/data to prove this and this is just speculation.

  4. Anytime you build a pressure vessel … you want as few welds as possible. These guys are building the whole thing out of a cnc welder (3D metal printer is essentially a CNC welder). Once you print this pressure vessel the amount of NDTs you will have to do is going to be pretty extensive. It will be much practical to take conventional manufacturing techniques and refine it to cut cost and improve production time. 3D printed metal parts for rockets or aircrafts are just reckless.

  5. I absolutely love this. Advancements in new Technologies always excites me . Wishing you guys a fantastic future ahead.

  6. So our saying 3D Printers(Metal Sintering machines) are the New PIMPING Lathe's!
    The Ultimate tool that can make it self…almost!!!
    SO….If you had 1 on a spaceship & MOST of the space ship parts were made
    by a 3D Printer, you could make & replace parts in space……Niceness!!!

  7. When is everyone going to realize that rocket tech is not going to work for the future space. To much money and highly dangerous. Now most governments are even the USA have finally admitted to ufos. Think ya way past due for the private sector to understand how ufos can fly. Or does the us know and doesn’t want it out not bc if aliens but bc they didn’t use oil to get here and maybe this Propulsion system has a way to power up homes or anything u want. Now the would be huge since a lot of the USA is ran off big business.

  8. The main issue is welding in this case. I have touched robotic welding and 3d printing a little. The wire stuck will bring quality problems. Shall be high QA level. Wire gage must be thick enough cause this method calls for additional surface treatment. Hope you will do some test. But looks like level of importance calls for x-ray. Much easier to build these items by spinning Cnc machine. In this case result is more predictable. I hope investors are wealthy enough.

  9. Something tells me that this 3d printing capabilities are deliberately over exagerated.

    For all we know 3d printinting is can only form certain things or print only specific shapes and such. The rest is advertisement probaganda, made to look like it can do all sorts of things [email protected]#!!

  10. 2020s is gonna be crazy decade when Crypto people start cash out and become millionaires and billionaires. Those people are gonna take engineering to the next level when they take the cash and put it into projects. Herd one kid that will become a Crypto-millionaire will make a space plane. These are the same people that hacked xbox, playstation, Netflix for fun, Imagine whats gonna happen when they all start getting a lot of money. One person I talked to, that has 70 Bitcoins, said he is gonna 3D print supercars. Another one said she was gonna make drones that pick up plastic in the ocean. I don't know about you but I can't wait till the 2020's, it's gonna be on a whole other level.

  11. I think 3D printing tech (especially 3D printed rockets) is (are) essential for colonization of the the solar system. Print a rocket on earth > travel to mars (or the moon) > print a base there > print a rocket on mars > travel to other planets and moons > print a base and rockets there and so on . Baby steps but eventually we would have a network of space taxis for exploration and resource mining that can eventually reach beyond the solar system.
    🌎 🚀 🌒

  12. This is why our younger generations will succeed in the future. They have incredible ideas and the environment to thrive. Let’s keep it that way!!

  13. Excellent 👍 ….. This is the future 😊 ….
    We must thank …. Trump and China to jump start the Renaissance in Space race ….

  14. Great can we expect 3D printing to be used in production of Jet engines whihc may illiminate about 30 percent parts

  15. Two gay Shayteen men founded the company. You hear it in.his voice. The other looks like a gay Harry Potter.

  16. Here's an idea, let's find a way to employ human being's instead of your dumb robot's.

    I dunno, maybe increase the value of authentic artwork?

    At least they could paint their way into a paycheck instead of having a stupid robot program devalue the work with precise calculation.

    I think mistakes are beautiful.

  17. Even with 3D printing. You still need to be reusable to be cost competitive. I think the companies scope is too narrow. With the tech they have they’re in prime position to truly make a machine that makes machines. That is to say an “Omni” printer that can produce complex many material things. I’m imaging a room sized 3D plastic/metal/rubber/glass multi material and modality printer. Ship it to space, the moon, and mars. And literally print out rovers and everything you need. Someone needs to do this and integrate the s***out of all the 3D printer advancements.

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