Maybe it’s because of the new contract that the DoD just awarded to SpaceX help get its Space Force satellites into orbit (and that will bring Elon Musk’s company $2 billion dollars). Maybe it’s just because SpaceX was among the first to understand the benefits of AM for end-use space parts. Either way, the company is now expanding AM activities and looking for new Additive Manufacturing Engineers, and for Process and Applications Development.
If this sounds like a dream job for most people involved with advancing AM, it’s because it probably is. In the LinkedIn ad, SpaceX stresses that the company “was founded under the belief that a future where humanity is out exploring the stars is fundamentally more exciting than one where we are not.”
Today SpaceX is actively developing the technologies to make this possible, with the ultimate goal of enabling human life on Mars. You can now actively contribute to this goal by working within a team of engineers focused on developing metal additive manufacturing for launch vehicle applications.
More specifically, this will mean fully leveraging various additive techniques by improving and developing build process parameters to produce the parts that will make Space X’s rockets fly to space more efficiently and at lower costs. Working at Space X you’ll get to push the limits of space travel but also those of AM.
This can be achieved by upgrading and improving additive manufacturing systems to maximize performance and also by working on DfAM of launch vehicle hardware to directly benefit from additive geometric freedom. The implementation of new hardware and software technologies will help to maximize customer quality and time of delivery while driving down costs across the entire manufacturing process, driving part mass reduction and part consolidation where applicable. Newly discovered and substantiated concepts and geometric specific build parameters will serve to improve part and vehicle system performance looking past currently established manufacturing limitations.
AM engineers at Space X work on improving additive equipment hardware and software to reduce the operational burden and improve print capabilities, driving high standards of consistency and reliability. By effectively collaborating with OEMs, when necessary, parts will need to be redesigned on additive equipment, as needed to drive improvements.
In fact, the ad gets a lot more specific than that, showing how deep Space X’s involvement already is with AM production workflow related processes – not just the printing part. Selected engineers will also work on performing build process parameter development to improve bulk mechanical properties, surface finish, and geometric accuracy. The idea is to maximize build productivity on current print alloys and develop process parameters for new materials. They will collaborate with materials engineering to characterize new parameters with metallographic evaluation and mechanical testing.
Working with the development team, Space X engineers also work to implement in-process monitoring systems and coordinate with materials and process for qualification of new processes with the future goal of eliminating inspection practices where applicable (proof, dimensional, visual, and NDE).
All this is targeted at actual end-use part production. AM engineers will work with additive operations engineers to implement applications into production, thus acting as a key resource for part qualification, by iterating and driving continuous improvements. This job also involves the generation of optimized powder bed fusion build files across for a variety of additive equipment and customizing the programming of laser toolpaths to achieve the greatest part quality and consistency.
The job also presents a cost-analysis element, with manufacturing trade studies and capacity analysis. This work will characterize total manufacturing costs and constraints, using data-driven techniques to promote additive manufacturing where best utilized. All this information will need to be effectively documented and disseminated throughout the additive organization to drive improvements and facilitate training.