Titomic and Romar Engineering aim for the stars with $8.1M aerospace projects

The nominations for the 2021 3D Printing Industry Awards are now open. Who do you think should make the shortlists for this year’s show? Have your say now. 

Australian metal 3D printer manufacturer Titomic and on-demand production provider Romar Engineering have gained a combined total of (AUD) $8.1 million to fund their respective upcoming aeronautical projects. 

While Titomic intends to deploy its capital to bring a new line of aerospace components to market, Romar Engineering similarly plans to use its share to produce motion control parts for future space missions. The funding has been awarded as part of the Australian state’s wider ‘Modern Manufacturing Initiative,’ through which it aims to help native firms capture supply chain opportunities. 

“These grants will help bolster Australia’s reputation in the growing global civil space industry and build on the important work being led by our Australian Space Agency,” said Christian Porter, Australia’s Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. “From satellites to sensor componentry, Australian manufacturers are drawing on our existing AM expertise to launch into exciting new markets.” 

“This funding is about creating more opportunities to grow our local space industry, unlocking further investment and delivering the skilled jobs we need now and for the future.”

A Roman Engineer using DMG MORI's LASERTEC 650 3D printer.
Romar Engineering intends to use part of its funding to hire 18 new staff to work in its Advanced Manufacturing division. Photo via Romar Engineering.

A ‘Modern Manufacturing Initiative’

Announced in October 2020, the Australian government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) is designed to drive the competitiveness and sustainability of the country’s manufacturing sector. As part of the MMI’s first round of Integration and Translation funding, nearly $14 million has now been awarded to help boost four Australian companies, each seeking to address the global aerospace industry. 

As one of those selected for backing, Titomic is set to gain $2.3 million towards the series production and commercialization of the satellite parts it has been developing. The firm also intends to achieve the same with the titanium space vehicle parts it has under wraps, which it’s building to address Australia’s space sector in addition to overseas markets. 

Although the company hasn’t publicly confirmed that it’ll 3D print the components in question, much of its activity revolves around its additive Titomic Kinetic Fusion technology. Also, given that in the past, the firm has received an order from Airbus and produced rocket components alongside Gilmour Space Technologies, it’s not much of a leap to suggest that it’s now 3D printing its own aerospace parts. 

Elsewhere, the MMI has also seen EffusionTech and Q-CTRL receive $1.2 million and $2.5 million to bankroll similar aerospace-related projects. Using this funding, the former aims to manufacture low-cost, durable and high-performance liquid-fuelled rocket engines, while the latter is setting out to expand on its production of remote-sensing space payloads. 

Titomic at Formnext 2018. Photo by Michael Petch.
Titomic’s Kinetic Fusion 3D printer in-action at Formnext 2018. Photo via Michael Petch.

Romar’s $5.8M expansion  

As the fourth and final recipient of first-round MMI investment, Romar Engineering has been awarded the most funding of all those backed so far, gaining $5.8 million. Leveraging the majority of its newfound capital, the company aims to manufacture and deploy its fluid and motion control systems, which are designed to be used within future space missions. 

With the rest of the grant, the firm reportedly intends to hire eighteen new members of staff to work in its Advanced Manufacturing division, which is known to house several 3D printers, including a DMG MORI LASERTEC 65 system that is said to be the only one of its kind installed in Australia, and one of just three being used in commercial settings. 

With regards to the MMI’s remaining $1.286 billion budget, the Australian government will announce further medical and ‘critical mineral’ awardees in the near future. Areas set to be targeted include the food and beverage, clean energy and defense sectors, which will receive a combined $200 million rather than the initially-planned $140 million, due to the strength of applications being submitted. 

State-sponsored AM R&D

The Australian government isn’t the only administration seeking to give their 3D printing firms a competitive advantage, and many countries have been running stimulus programs for some time. One of the most high-profile examples of this is the U.S. Department of Defense-backed America Makes, which announced its latest Open Project Call just last month, putting (USD) $1.6 million in funding up for grabs. 

Across the pond, the British government issues similar technology-oriented grants, with one of the most recent recipients being post-processing specialist Additive Manufacturing Technologies (AMT). Back in April 2021, Innovate UK awarded the company £87,000 to develop an organic solvent that’s specifically designed for processing elastomeric materials. 

States have also been known to make one-off payments as part of broader stimulus packages, at times when the macroeconomic climate is stifling the growth of their native 3D printing firms. Prodways, for example, gained €3.3 million worth of funding from the French government earlier this year, to help finance the roll-out of its forward-looking ‘Futur3D’ project

The nominations for the 2021 3D Printing Industry Awards are now open. Who do you think should make the shortlists for this year’s show? Have your say now. 

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Featured image shows a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch. Photo via Visit Space Coast.