Heliaq Investing in CNC Manufacturing

Heliaq has expanded our Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) equipment range to enable the manufacture of larger components for the ALV-2. To date our smaller precision machines were well suited to the manufacture of components for the small-scale test vehicles. But the increased size of the ALV-2 requires a step change in manufacturing capability.

Last week we received two relatively large machines, a CNC milling machine and a CNC lathe. Both of these are “toolroom” type CNC machines, which are ideally suited to the manufacture of relatively large aerospace components. Unlike many other industries, machined launch vehicle components are physically large and require high precision, but are only manufactured at very low production rates. Therefore, fully automatic machining centres with auto tool changers and high speed spindles / servos add little value, and their huge cost is not justifiable. We believe that the new machines will serve the ALV project well for many years, especially with control upgrades that are planned within the next two years.

With the 4-axis milling machine and 2-axis lathe we can manufacture components up to about 400mm in diameter and 700mm long. Our analysis have shown that we can machine virtually all non-sheet metal components for the entire ALV-2 vehicle using these machines.

The ALV-2 second stage rocket engine currently being designed by Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering (DARE) will be some of the first components to be manufactured on the new machines. Prototyping of this engine is planned to start in February 2016.