There is news about what appears to be a new player in the metal 3D printing powder market: ALTANA.
ALTANA is a German chemical company formed in 1977. They’re quite large, employing more than 6,000 staff and with over €2B in annual revenue. They have activity in several markets, producing coatings, pigments and inks. One of their divisions is ECKART, which focuses on the pigments and inks.
None of this sounds like anything to do with 3D printing, but it seems they’ve added a new strategy that is heading in that direction. They announced a series of acquisitions that could position them as a leading provider of metal powder for the burgeoning metal 3D printing market.
Specifically, they announced:
- Expansion of ALTANA’s ECKART division with innovative solutions for metal-based 3D printing
- Acquisition of the business of the internationally leading TLS Technik GmbH & Co. Spezialpulver KG with high-performance metal powders for 3D printing
- Acquisition of the British specialist AMT for alloy development in 3D printing and its patented special alloy A20X for lightweight components
Now before you get confused, the AMT they refer to is NOT the well-known post-processing equipment maker, AMT, which just happens to also be based in the UK. They’re referring to ”British company Aluminium Materials Technologies Ltd. (AMT)”.
Dr. Wolfgang Schütt, head of ECKART, said:
“AMT and its A20X alloy complement TLS’ capabilities, enabling us to offer users even more high-performance materials in the future, including in the aerospace industry, a key market for metallic 3D printing.”
ALTANA / ECKART now join the growing list of metal powder providers for additive manufacturing applications.
This is good news for metal 3D printer operators, as another player on the scene will cause a couple of beneficial effects:
- Costs could be lowered due to competition, providing some cost relief for companies using the typically expensive metal powders
- Additional choice of materials could result, as Schütt explained
The latter point is perhaps the more important. Additive manufacturing applications have for many years been subject to extreme constraints on materials, simply because some materials don’t work or have not been certified for use. The additional competition will surely drive additional certifications and availability of new materials, as those, along with costing, are about the only ways a powder company can differentiate itself.
There’s another curious aspect of this announcement. ALTANA has thus far had little to no involvement in the 3D printing world, and they have, for reasons unknown, suddenly decided to step in. Smartly they have acquired knowledgable parties so they don’t have to spend years catching up.
Now they can begin with a running start.
Via ALTANA / ECKART