April 15, 2024
Space Tech

Solideon and Leap 71 enter 3D-printed large space hardware tie-up

The ultimate goal is for off-planet production

Solideon, a leading California-headquartered provider of collaborative robotic metal 3D printing systems, and Leap 71, a computational and AI-based engineering technology developer in Dubai, have signed a strategic agreement to design and produce large-scale hardware for space applications.

Under the terms of the strategic partnership, the two companies will collaborate deeply to construct metal structures of significant scale with the eventual goal of enabling production in space.

By combining their core strengths and a shared vision of space exploration, the two companies aim to target several sectors, including manufacturing large rocket propulsion systems and components for space infrastructure.

The collaboration, announced in Berkeley, California, on March 18, 2024, is a significant leap towards advancing space exploration technology and, in turn, off-planet manufacturing capabilities.

Year-long initiative

Over the past year, the two entities have undertaken synergistic efforts to merge Leap 71’s proprietary Computational Engineering Models (CEM)—generative frameworks for building sophisticated physical objects—and Solideon’s cutting-edge large-scale collaborative robotic metal manufacturing technology, Aperture, to transform large-scale space hardware production like never before.

Solideon’s Aperture system integrates various manufacturing processes into a cohesive and autonomous framework, including wire-arc 3D printing, CNC milling, and subcomponent assembly. At the same time, Leap 71’s computational models generate geometric data and optimise production workflows.

Leap 71 and Solideon are developing and producing a 3D-printed rocket engine as part of their newly revealed partnership. The nozzle alone is two-thirds the size of NASA’s retired Saturn V rocket engine. The Saturn V was a super heavy-lift launch vehicle under NASA’s Apollo programme for human exploration of the Moon.

Meeting the demand

Josefine Lissner, Co-Founder and CEO of Leap 71, said: “Access to space will expand significantly in the coming years. But how do we build the large components needed to create extraterrestrial infrastructure?

“Leap 71’s computational models can design sophisticated space hardware. However, limitations of the current manufacturing processes, including the small build volumes of most industrial 3D printers, are holding us back. Solideon will help us produce enormous objects by today’s standards,” Lissner added.

Oluseun Taiwo, Founder and CEO of Solideon, stated: “A spacefaring society needs new production technologies that surpass conventional terrestrial approaches. The Aperture system combines many steps into one cohesive, autonomous, and collaborative whole.

“We can now manufacture large-scale objects on Earth and eventually will do so in zero gravity. By tightly integrating the engineering algorithms created by Leap 71 with our software-driven production system, we can build objects that move space technology to a new level.”

New era dawns

The strategic alliance between Solideon and Leap 71 heralds a new era of innovation in space manufacturing, paving the way for the realisation of ambitious extraterrestrial projects and the expansion of humanity’s presence beyond Earth’s confines.

Leap 71’s proprietary Computational Engineering Models are generative frameworks for building sophisticated physical objects. Credit: Leap 71

Established in 2023 by computational engineers Lin Kayser and Josefine Lissner, Leap 71 has since pioneered a shift in engineering methodology. Kayser’s and Lissner’s vision is to replace manual processes with software-driven solutions, leveraging algorithms and AI to craft intricate machine designs.

Operating across diverse sectors, such as aerospace and electric mobility, Leap 71’s expansive computational models enable engineers to prototype sophisticated components, expediting innovation rapidly. The Dubai-based company has made its core technology, PicoGK, available as open source.

Solideon, previously known as Additive Space Technologies, is a world leader in the aerospace sector. It prioritises agility and streamlines production timelines.

By leveraging AI for generative designs and enhancing additive manufacturing processes, the company improves the efficiency and adaptability of aerospace structures. Their groundbreaking innovation, Aperture, represents an integrated robotic additive manufacturing system, highlighting vertical integration and patented 3D welding techniques.

Featured image: Composite of a human figure seen for comparative size to the mega nozzle of a 3D-printed rocket engine that Solideon and Leap 71 are working on as part of their newly announced collaboration. Credit: Leap 71/Solideon

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto is an award-winning journalist with wide-ranging Middle East and Asia experience in the tech, aerospace, defence, luxury watchmaking, business, automotive, and fashion verticals. He is passionate about conserving endangered native wildlife globally. Arnold enjoys 4x4 off-roading, camping and exploring global destinations off the beaten track.
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