Metal additive manufacturing company Rosotics has unveiled the first complete prototype of its new Mantis printer, a large-format machine that can fold up after use, making it easy to pack and transport.
Capable of printing 45kg of material per hour using the power from a standard 240V outlet, the first Mantis printers are set to be delivered in October this year, with prices expected to start at $95,000 each. Designed to manufacture large-format components up to 30 feet in diameter, Rosotics has claimed that their new printer can produce items larger than any other 3D printer on the market.
Scaling production and expanding applications
Currently focused primarily on aerospace applications, Rosotics hopes to scale up production within this and adjacent verticals through the production of its newest printer.
The company has already established an assembly line for Mantis production at the Falcon Field airport in Mesa, with Rosotics Founder and CEO Christian LaRosa hoping to scale up production to “dozens of these machines each quarter” in the near future. Whilst Rosotics had been holding off on closing any deals prior to debuting Mantis, LaRosa claims that the firm has now begun conversations and conducted site visits with potential buyers in the aerospace industry.
Looking to the future, Rosotics hopes to broaden Mantis’s applications beyond aerospace. For instance, the company is aiming to increase the types of feedstock used by the printer, in order to expand its reach into new sectors like energy and maritime.
The unveiling of the Mantis follows last year’s announcement that Rosotics had raised $750,000 in a pre-seed funding round led by Draper Associates. At the time, Rosotics COO Austin Thurman stated, “although we are starting in aerospace, our vision is that we will soon be able to create some part of everything. Mantis is just the beginning, and as our process becomes more dynamic there will be no size limit to what we can build and where we can build it.”
Printing through rapid induction
Mantis employs Rosotics’ new rapid induction method to print parts in aerospace-grade steel and aluminum.
Traditional laser-based 3D printing methods which use a single nozzle tend to consume extensive energy and incur risks to the user. However, rather than using an outside source to heat the printing material, rapid induction uses induction to heat from within the feedstock, creating a liquid flow for printing. This method consumes considerably less energy and material resources than traditional techniques. “Having a new process that is more efficient [and] does away with the laser entirely allows you to not only push more mass through that nozzle, but you can also run more nozzles at the same time,” commented LaRosa.
Whilst Rosotics had already established induction capabilities for ferromagnetic materials such as iron alloys, the company has only recently determined how to use inductive printing on non-ferromagnetic materials like aluminum. To achieve this, the firm used a blend of materials, including cobalt, to create a specialized printing nozzle. LaRosa claims that this nozzle allows machines to print with aluminum through rapid induction, achieving the same power and output metrics as had been reached with steel.
Additive manufacturing within aerospace
3D printing within aerospace has certainly been a hot topic recently, with California-based startup Relativity recently launching its 3D printed Terran 1 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Whilst the rocket, 85% of which is 3D printed, failed to make it to orbit, the company attested that Terran 1 had achieved most of its mission’s milestones. LaRosa called the event “a testament to the robustness of 3D printing, and what you can produce, and how strong those parts can be.”
Elsewhere, in March it was announced that space habitation technologies developer Vast had completed the acquisition of US aerospace firm Launcher. Through this deal, Vast hopes to further develop and leverage Launcher’s 3D printed space rockets, such as the E-2 liquid rocket engine, to help achieve their mission of creating artificial gravity space stations. “The next step for innovation is habitation. We are developing low-cost stations and artificial gravity so that people can live in space for long periods of time without the permanent side effects of zero-gravity,” commented Vast Founder and CEO Jed McCaleb.
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Featured image shows the Mantis 3D printer. Photo via Rosotics.