New Additive Manufacturing System for the UK Space Sector

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Picture of Mike Curtis-Rouse (right) Head of Manufacturing for Space at Satellite Applications Catapult, inspecting the MetalFAB1 with Lars Ryberg, Director Business Development UK & Ireland.

A similar machine will be installed at the Westcott Venture Park to increase UK space manufacturing capability.

The Satellite Applications Catapult, the UK’s technology and innovation company, adds the MetalFAB1 system to benefit the UK Space Sector. The new MetalFAB1 has been acquired as part of an investment from the Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership, through the Getting Building Fund, and will be installed at the Satellite Applications Catapult’s Disruptive Innovation for Space Capability (DISC) at Westcott Venture Park where it will be available for UK companies to use from July 2021.

The MetalFAB1 system was developed for high-end automotive, high-tech equipment, oil and gas, and aerospace applications and is supplied by Additive Industries in the Netherlands. Over the coming months, the Satellite Applications Catapult and Additive Industries will be demonstrating its capabilities to interested UK organisations and will showcase the potential for additive manufacturing for the space sector, with a specific emphasis on rocket engines. With thousands of parts built using additive manufacturing technologies in use across multiple disruptive sectors, including aerospace, maritime, energy and space, the technology is now vital for improved performance, reduction of waste and by-products. However access to additive manufacturing equipment which has the capacity to build large parts has to date remained prohibitively expensive for most UK SMEs.

The Satellite Applications Catapult continues to remove the barriers to growth for the UK Space Industry by making this technology available to companies on a pay-as-you-go basis, working either with the Catapult’s expert Manufacturing for Space team, or in an independent capacity.

Mike Curtis-Rouse, Head of Manufacturing for Space at Satellite Applications Catapult said: Additive Industries is the only company providing industrially integrated scalable metal additive manufacturing solutions that we can acquire today. The MetalFAB1 brings disruptive advanced manufacturing capabilities to the home of UK rocket Technology, at the Westcott Venture Park. The surge in the number of companies aspiring to build and support new launch vehicles and inspace propulsion continues to grow. This new capability will ensure that UK SMEs can access the latest in additive manufacturing technology to accelerate their businesses, prove new processes and learn first-hand the skills needed to fully exploit the phenomenal technology that the MetalFAB1 delivers. Our collaboration with Additives Industries also marks a significant milestone bringing weight saving, novel geometries, low volume production requirements and reduced part count solutions to any potential business wanting to manufacture aerospace parts.  Positioned at our new facility at Westcott, we look forward to creating a hot-bed of testing and development to build capacity for any new or existing UK space manufacturing enterprises.

“With The Satellite Applications Catapult we added one of Europe’s leading Space Technology Organisations to our focused list of companies. They are committed to bringing the benefits provided by our MetalFAB1, for example best in class productivity, highest component quality, highest system reliability to satellite technologies in the UK, and potentially the entire European space sector, ”says Ian Howe, CEO of Additive Industries. “Satellite Applications Catapult collaborates with hundreds of space companies throughout the world. They bring together multi-disciplinary teams to generate ideas and solutions in an open innovation environment.” added Lars Ryberg, Director Business Development UK & Ireland. “Having a customer close to our UK & Ireland Process and Application Centre will give us new opportunities for future collaborations”.