On these pages, we’ve often had the opportunity to show how AM is helping the still relatively young new space economy literally get off the ground. Following in Space X’s, NASA’s and ESA’s footsteps, many fascinating startups are using AM to create unique space parts, including engines, satellites and even entire rockets (are on the way). We now zoom in on a newcomer in this… space: PhytomSpace. The firm recently partnered with 3D printing specialist GKN Additive to accelerate product development and leverage the economic advantages that additive manufacturing can offer.
PythomSpace specializes in building small launch vehicle rocket engines, that will make future space exploration more affordable. Founders Tina and Tom Sjögren moved from Sweden to the US about 20 years ago. The entrepreneurial couple has a background in mountaineering and polar skiing before they discovered their passion for space. The majority of their team at PythomSpace are people they met on their professional expeditions.
Speaking with GKN’s Susanne Trautmann (you can read their full interview here), Tina and Tom pointed out that the new space start-ups are now coming from absolutely nowhere. With a limited engineering background, they throw themselves at all the new tools available and 3D printing is a key new tool to make this possible.
“We are currently building a rocket with a very small team. 20 years ago, this process would have required maybe a thousand people. Our company wouldn’t even have been possible back then, but 3D printing changes things: we can now save time and a lot of money. You don’t have to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars that you did before,” Tom pointed out.
PythomSpace has so far worked additively with Inconel 625 and will switch to Inconel 718 in the next phase. Both materials are nickel-chromium alloys and were used already in the 60s. The main difference is that this time the material can be 3D printed. Also, materials are currently evolving quickly, so now they are exploring options in aluminum and copper as well.
GKN’s Susanne Trautmann spoke with Pythom Co-founders Tom Sjögren to get a better understanding of their roadmap, future plans and the latest trends in the space industry. Read the full interview.