Incredibly enough – but these are the times we live in – Copenhagen Suborbitals is an entirely crowdfunded and nonprofit space company, which is one more reason to be really careful about costs. In a continuing effort to contain costs, Copenhagen Suborbitals engineers have been assessing and gradually introducing metal 3D printing in their workflow where it makes sense to do so. The latest part to be 3D printed, the swirlers for the coaxial swirl injector, have now been produced using Digital Metal’s binder jetting technology.
Copenhagen Suborbitals is the world’s only manned, amateur space program. Since 2011, the team has built and flown 6 homebuilt rockets and space capsules from a ship in the Baltic Sea with the goal of – eventually – sending a human from the team into space.
A couple of years ago, the original prototype (seen in this image above) swirl injectors had been produced subtractively. The video below shows how these parts are intended to work
The new 3D printed coaxial swirl injectors are now ready for coaxial injector completion. They will still be soldered (with 39 joints) to the rest of the assembly.
“[Our goal is] to fly an amateur astronaut into space and safely back. It’s a unique dream and we can’t think of a more fun and exciting project. When Edmund Hillary was asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest he replied: ‘Because it’s there’,” the team writes on their website.
Space is defined by the Kármán line at 100 km above Earth, so Copenhagen Suborbitals’ plan is to fly a space capsule with our astronaut straight up to just over that altitude, from where it will free fall straight back and land by parachute in the sea. Copenhagen Suborbitals is the only space organization that launches rockets from a sailing platform in international waters, since it’s virtually impossible to get permission to do it from the ground in any country. For now, they are also the only space company to have coaxial swirls injectors printed by binder jetting.