Taking to the Skies with Gravity Industries

Thursday November 25, 2021 at 2:35pm

Gravity Industries joined our SOLIDWORKS Entrepreneur Programme, which gave them the full suite of tools, they needed to design, conceptualise, and test their iterations before moving to physical prototypes.

"Being on the Entrepreneur Programme has been brilliant, and it's allowed us to focus most of our funds towards developing the suit and getting more iterations of the pack. Every time we 3D print, it's a rather large-scale print so we can focus on really iterating and improving." - Sam Rogers.

Our SOLIDWORKS Entrepreneur Programme provides companies with everything they need to get started, equipped with software and training to get them off the ground.

Gravity Case Study

We've all seen cartoons that show a rocket strapped to your back like a rucksack and wondered if it was possible to fly as a human being. Gravity Industries took on the challenge and have successfully created a human jet suit, with 1050bhp, and speeds up to 80mph.

"Every single time people see it for the first time, you get this ridiculous response that there is like an element of their brain that is not computing what they're seeing." - Richard Browning, Founder and Chief Test Pilot at Gravity Industries.

Gravity’s Founder and Chief Test Pilot, Richard Browning, established Gravity to challenge the perceived boundaries of human aviation. Richard’s journey began as an oil trader and Royal Marines Reservist, but his connection to and interest in flight is in his blood as his family has long served in the aviation space. Richard’s passion for innovation and asking, “what if?”, led him to found Gravity Industries to leverage cutting-edge technology to reimagine human flight. Fast forward 4 years, and he’s done it! Successfully achieved human flight.

With two mini fuel-powered jet engines on each arm and one larger jet carried on the back to propel both pilot and gear off the ground, it's not quite the original idea of strapping a rocket to your back, instead, it is the result of numerous rounds of testing, prototyping, failing and discovery.

LIFTOFF WITH THE ENTREPRENEUR PROGRAMME

Like many start-ups, it all begins with a concept and the belief it can come to life, the next step is finding right the tools and materials to enable it to do so.

Gravity Industries joined our SOLIDWORKS Entrepreneur Programme which has helped them to design, conceptualise, and test their iterations before moving to physical prototypes.

“Being on the Entrepreneur Programme has been brilliant, and it's allowed us to focus most of our funds towards developing the suit and getting more iterations of the pack. Every time we 3D print, it's a rather large-scale print so we can focus on really iterating and improving." - Sam Rogers.

Our SOLIDWORKS Entrepreneur Programme provides companies with everything they need to get started, equipped with software and training to get them off the ground.

BREAKING BOUNDARIES WITH SOLIDWORKS

The Gravity team are all about breaking boundaries and pushing the perception of reality, but they knew that their designs had to be realistic and functional in order to succeed. Using SOLIDWORKS allowed them to experiment with and analyse concepts without the need for physical prototypes, drastically minimising the number of failed attempts and reducing wasted materials.

"Our design process all takes place in SOLIDWORKS where we will design it for manufacture. The whole point is that we're making this [the jet-suit] as productised as possible for something that is running five turbojet engines on the human body." - Sam Rogers, Design Engineer and Test Pilot. "SOLIDWORKS allows us to turn our creative thoughts into physical products which, can then be 3D Printed and literally flown."

The team were able to create complex and sophisticated designs with ease, allowing them to create, test, analyse and validate designs rapidly before getting them ready for manufacture with seamless 3D printing integrations.

“I think it's all credit to SOLIDWORKS for the work for building a platform that allows you to turn a very sophisticated, now three-dimensional idea, into something that can be digitally represented. And then drive the wonderful miraculous technology of 3D printing to create." - Sam Rogers

STEP ASIDE MR STARK

It turns out, designing a jet suit wasn't quite as simple as Tony Stark had made it out to be. Instead, it took multiple iterations, there was, however, one that was likened to the Iron Man suit, sadly it didn't quite live up to the movies and had some significant design flaws!

"The first flight in 2016 was achieved by having an engine on the back of each leg. It did work, but it was ludicrously complex and would destroy the ground if you had the thrust so close to the surface, so you know it's all about just trying something." Richard Explains.

Like many great inventions, it takes numerous ideas, concepts, and iterations to get right, and Gravity understood this. They kept pressing forwards and used SOLIDWORKS to validate concepts before moving to physical prototypes. Using parametric design and visualise enabled them to review each design with the design team and allowed for rapid feedback and analysis. The Gravity Jet Suit is now on its third iteration, with two miniature jet engines on each arm and a fifth housed in a backpack. Carrying over five gallons of jet fuel, the suit now allows a 200-pound person to fly around for up to 7 minutes.

THE SKY IS THE LIMIT

Gravity has successfully conquered lifting a human off the ground, what could possibly be next? Well, they’re just getting started! Now they can get someone off the ground, they’re looking to increase the duration that the Jet Suit can support a user, the current limit is capped at 7 minutes, which is still worlds apart from where they started at 15 seconds with the first iteration. In addition to this, Gravity has a few other avenues at play, including tests with the UK Military and the creation of an all-electric suit.

ADVICE FOR BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS

“I mean, firstly, it is a hard journey. You will have more failures than you will have successes. You just have to make those failures recoverable; it's about identifying how you can test your idea as quickly as possible and take the learnings from it. If it turns out to not be the best answer, the best pathway and then quickly move on to the next one. And if you get through as many of those learning journeys as you can as painlessly as possible, you will eventually navigate your way through to success.” – Iron Man, a.k.a Richard Browning.

Cover Image Credit: GWR Brighton

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