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MM: Autonomous Trucks Of Singapore; 3D-Printed Rocket Fuel

In this Manufacturing Minute episode, 3D-printed rocket fuel and autonomous trucks hit the streets of Singapore.

3D-Printed Rocket Fuel

While NASA and private aerospace companies experiment with 3D-printed parts, Florida-based Rocket Crafters was awarded a patent for 3D-printed rocket fuel. The patent covers a method of fueling hybrid liquid/solid rockets using 3D printing technology, allowing for the construction of safer and less expensive launch vehicles that have only two moving parts. 

The process works by precisely placing grains of fuel inside the rocket to make up a geometric pattern, which acts as the motor's combustion chamber. The fuel is laid out in a concentric pattern of layers, with a port in the center where the oxidizer is introduced. 

The precise setting ensures that the shape of the combustion chamber remains constant as the fuel burns in an even and predictable pattern as each layer is consumed. To ensure burning consistency, the grains are also 3D-printed before placement.

The company is currently developing its Interepid-1 boosters that can deliver small satellites into orbit at half the price of conventional launchers with plans to enter service in 2019. 


Could 3D-printed fuel be a great way to reduce costs and improve reliability? What other uses could you see for 3D printing that haven’t been tapped into yet? Tell us what you think by leaving your comments below. 

The Autonomous Trucks of Singapore

Car manufacturers and software developers around the world are investing heavily in making autonomous driving technology a reality. And now, more than ever, it seems like it’s less a matter of how and more about when. 

One perhaps surprising proponent of autonomous tech has been Singapore. Not only was the country the first in the world to debut public trials of self-driving taxis, but now it’s also looking to bring self-driving technology to its busy shipping ports. 

Last week, Singapore’s Ministry of Transport announced a partnership with Scania and Toyota to develop a test a truck platooning system; something the ministry says could help address the current labor shortage in the trucking industry.

In its current proposal, the system would work as a convoy with autonomous trucks transporting cargo from one port terminal to another, with a human-driven truck leading the way. Trials for the development of this system will take place over the next three years, but the end goal will be to fully automate the processes for the precise docking and undocking of cargo loads.


What do you think about Singapore’s proposed plan? Could you envision a port in the U.S. that could benefit from autonomous technologies? Tweet me your thoughts @MnetNews or leave a comment in the section below. 

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