Burloak Technologies Inc., a division of Samuel, Son & Co. Ltd., established an additive-manufacturing center in Camarillo, Calif. With the addition of this facility, the company becomes North America’s first multi-site AM services provider. The new 25,000-square-foot facility bolsters the manufacturing capacity available at Burloak’s 65,000-square-foot Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence in Oakville, Ontario. Between the two facilities, the company offers laser powder-bed fusion, electron-beam powder bed, metal binder jet, and powder and wire DED technologies. In addition, Burloak offers post-production services including design, engineering, CNC machining, heat treatment and finishing.
Nikon Corp. acquired majority ownership of Morf3D Inc., a metal additive-manufacturing (AM) company specializing in AM and engineering for the aerospace, space and defense industries. El Segundo, Calif.-based Morf3D helps customers realize the potential of AM to solve complex design and manufacturing challenges. Using additive design and analytical tools combined with serial production experience, the company accelerates fully optimized functional structures and build processes.
A tool to optimize powder formulations for metal additive manufacturing will greatly decrease time for new alloy development and offer superior performance at lower cost for customized industrial applications.
The Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) in the U.S. Department of Energy is sponsoring research to formulate high-quality metal powders optimized for metal additive manufacturing (AM), including hard-to-build alloys such as high-temperature refractory alloys. AM refractory multi-principal-element alloys (MPEAs), comprising elements with melting points of 1850-2200°C, offer the potential for step-change improvements in extreme high-temperature resistance needed for the newest high-efficiency gas turbines and other industrial applications.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) awarded nearly $4 million in grants to help accelerate the adoption of new measurement methods and standards to advance U.S. competitiveness in metals-based additive manufacturing (AM). According to NIST, these projects will improve U.S. manufacturers’ ability to use metals-based additive manufacturing to make high-quality, innovative and complex products at high volume. Through its own research and with these grants, NIST is addressing barriers to adoption of additive manufacturing, including surface finish and quality issues, dimensional accuracy, fabrication speed, material properties and computational requirements.
Our take on metals additive manufacturing (AM) is that it has made it past the “valley of death” in the so-called hype curve. It is being used widely and sometimes for unexpected applications. For example, I was impressed to hear a presentation from the Sonova Group about printing custom hearing-aid earpieces in titanium, for which the unexpected benefit was much better robustness against being dropped on the floor and crushed underfoot.
The U.S. Air Force awarded Albuquerque, N.M.-based Optomec a $1 million contract to deliver a high-volume production metal additive-manufacturing (AM) system for refurbishing turbine engine components, including titanium parts. The equipment will have a range of capabilities, including an automation system for batch processing, an oxygen-free controlled atmosphere and an adaptive vision system. The automated metal AM system will be capable of processing tens of thousands of repairs per year, with an initial focus on tip refurbishment for turbine blades. It will be installed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City.
CORE Industrial Partners, a Chicago-based private-equity firm, acquired GPI Prototype & Manufacturing Services LLC, a metal additive-manufacturing (AM) services provider, by CORE portfolio company Fathom. Founded in 2007 as one of the first metal AM services providers in the country, Lake Bluff, Ill.-based GPI uses direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) to print parts with complex geometries for on-demand manufacturing applications. The company utilizes a variety of metal powders – including aluminum, stainless steel, tool steel, titanium and cobalt chrome – and holds ISO 9001, ISO 13485 and AS9100D certifications.
Sumitomo Corporation of Americas (SCOA), the largest subsidiary of Sumitomo Corp., entered into an agreement to increase its investment in Sintavia LLC. Hollywood, Fla.-based Sintavia is a tier-one metal additive manufacturer for the aerospace and space industries. The parties jointly announced that the minority investment, which follows an initial investment by SCOA in 2018, will be used to fund Sintavia’s growing business of providing additively manufactured parts to the world’s largest aerospace and space companies.
VELO3D and Lam Research Corp. announced a joint development agreement that includes collaboration on novel materials and designs in metal additive manufacturing (AM) for the semiconductor industry. Lam Research plans to significantly increase the volume of parts produced by AM over the next five years. Campbell, Calif.-based VELO3D will develop new metal alloys on its Sapphire printer that are critical to Lam Research designs and technologies. Lam Capital will also invest an undisclosed amount in VELO3D.