When the equipment you make costs millions of dollars, every sale is newsworthy. When that equipment is meant to revolutionize metal 3D printing and, therefore, manufacturing as a whole, it is all that more significant. That’s the case for SLM Solutions and its NXG Xll 600s systems, two of which it has sold to a “leading California-based rocket company”.
The NXG Xll 600 has initiated what we have referred to as “the laser wars” in 3D printing. With 12 1kW lasers and a 600x600x600 mm build volume, the machine is described by SLM as being “20 times faster than the competition”. This led the competition—including 3D Systems, VELO3D, Additive Industries, and Farsoon—to announce their own massive machines with eight-plus lasers.
So far, SLM has sold its unique machine to the likes of Nikon subsidiary Morf3D, Divergent 3D, and an undisclosed “major European OEM”, which purchased five units. Porsche also used the machine to produce an e-drive part.
The name of the space customer also hasn’t been disclosed and the fact that it is based in California isn’t of much help for guessing, as nearly every U.S. rocket manufacturer has locations in the state. This includes legacy companies like Aerojet Rocketdyne/Lockheed Martin to new firms, such as Space X and Blue Origin, all of which use 3D printing in some capacity.
“The NXG XII 600 is a true game-changer for the rapidly growing (New) Space industry. Here, traditional space companies and established players must cope with strong growth and an urgent need for complex parts to win the modern space race. SLM Solutions technology enables more affordable missions due to smarter designs that make rocket engines more efficient, bringing their performance to the next level. There is probably no faster and more efficient way to explore orbit and come out triumphant than utilizing the capabilities of the NXG XII 600,” Dr. Simon Merkt-Schippers, EVP Product Management of SLM Solutions, remarked.
Given SLM’s limited penetration of the space sector, as far as public announcements are concerned, this gives the company access to an increasingly bustling industry that is increasingly reliant on AM for the production of rocket engines.