Sweden’s Arcam is a company on the move, it seems, as they’ve been making a series of deals to solidify their metal materials providers.
Arcam has been around for a few years now, slowly growing their electron-beam melting (EBM) technology market across the world. These machines use high-powered electron beams to selectively melt layers of fine metal powder to gradually produce complete metal 3D objects.
Theoretically you could use any suitable metal powder in the Arcam machines, but for the comfort of their clients, they provide a set of certified materials. While hobbyists may gleefully experiment with different types of materials, for companies this is a big issue: should there be a problem with a printed part, it is important to avoid blame caused by using an uncertified material. One can imagine the lawsuits generated by a failed airplane component, for example. Thus, metal 3D printer operators require certified materials.
If Arcam clients don’t see lists of certified materials, they may consider using alternative metal 3D printing equipment that has certified materials.
And so it comes to pass recently that Arcam made two announcements in this regard. First, they announced a deal with Alcoa, one of the world’s largest metal producers, to install an Arcam Q20plus metal 3D printer on site. You can imagine that having your supplier use your equipment would be an ideal arrangement to ensure materials are more than appropriate. Having a powerful metal 3D printer onsite may even encourage them to experiment with new varieties of materials that ultimately might be marketed by or through Arcam.
Secondly, Arcam announced they’re building a new powder manufacturing facility at their Montreal-based AP&C site. AP&C is Arcam’s Canadian subsidiary that produces their materials, while printers are built in Sweden and print services are offered in the USA.
The addition of the manufacturing facility was apparently driven by increasing demand for high-end titanium powder, no doubt mostly from the aerospace sector.
It seems that the airplane companies are catching on to metal 3D printing, and Arcam is attempting to capitalize on that demand.