AP&C And Titomic Announce Titanium Supply Agreement
AP&C will supply aerospace-grade titanium powder to Titomic.
The new supply agreement reminds us of the importance of material supply channels in additive manufacturing.
Titomic and AP&C
AP&C is a Québec-based company that, as part of the Arcam EBM family, falls now under the GE Additive umbrella.
The company is well known as a leading supplier of titanium and nickel powders for additive manufacturing.
Titomic is an Australian company focused on industrial-scale additive manufacturing.
Their Kinetic Fusion additive manufacturing process is an interesting, “cold” take on metal 3D printing. Titomic Kinetic Fusion (TKF) systems are in focus for the newly-announced materials Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
The MoU covers a few aspects of co-development for Titanium (Tii6Al4V) powder supply, including:
Titomic and AP&C to co-develop industry standards of best practice for the storage and safe handling of Titanium and Titanium alloy powders;
Titomic and AP&C to develop custom-made homogenization powder systems for Titanium and Titanium alloy powders for use in TKF AM manufacturing systems;
Titomic and AP&C to explore the optimization of coarse (50um - 150um) Titanium and Titanium Alloy powders for use in TKF AM manufacturing systems with the aim of significantly reducing the cost of TKF manufactured products.
Especially in focus for the materials development plans are that the titanium powders will be appropriate for use in defense and aerospace applications, where Titomic has built up a strong clientele.
“AP&C, a GE Additive Company, is a global leader in the production of the aerospace grade Titanium and Titanium alloy powders, using its Plasma Atomisation Manufacturing process, which have the ideal characteristics for Titomic Kinetic Fusion process. These Agreements provide Titomic with not only with a secure metal powders supply from AP&C, a reputable multinational company, but also allows for continuous improvement under a strong collaboration between the parties of their own unique capabilities for future digital manufacturing solutions for industries,” said Titomic Managing Director Jeff Lang.
Secure Global Supply
The MoU ensures “secure global supply” of aerospace-grade powders to Titomic.
The global aspect there is especially heartening, as this is a very global agreement. Metal supply is an interesting area in additive manufacturing, as the supply chain — like the industry — is relatively young. Metals pose issues that plastics don’t, including higher cost and higher weight, as well as potential hazards of storage and containment of reactive metals.
We’ve had thoughts before about the ongoing regionality of the metal supply side of additive manufacturing, but this co-development aspect could mark an interesting expansive element.
The relatively brief release explaining the MoU does not touch on much of the logistics of the agreement, stating relatively simply that:
“The agreement will provide secure global supply of aerospace grade Titanium Ti6Al4V powders to Titomic for its TKF systems providing the highest quality powder for Titomic’s clients in the defence and aerospace Industries.”
AP&C President and CEO Alain Dupont expands on this enough to clarify that the deal is indeed large-volume, saying:
“This agreement is a significant milestone in the supply of large volumes of Titanium and Titanium Alloy powders, and we’re delighted to be working with a recognised leader and manufacturing innovator Titomic, to produce best practice standards for the future to lead the development of industry standards for Titanium powders.”
The Canadian/Australian deal has surely taken into account just how the flow of materials and development will work, all with the ultimate goal of getting these new materials into customers’ hands.
Metal powders for additive manufacturing require a lot of science, to put it mildly, in their development. Drop-in replacements from traditional manufacturing processes are not an option; materials must be engineered specifically for use with particular technologies.
GE Additive has been investing into the materials side of its operations for some time, ready to play the long game. In 2016, the company established a new AP&C powder manufacturing plant in Montreal following “a surge in demand for AP&C’s high quality titanium powders for additive manufacturing.”
Especially important in this newly-announced deal is that the partners will focus as well on standards and establishing best practices.
Storage and safe handling best practices for reactive metals like titanium is critical for any manufacturing operation. An explosion would certainly derail operations, so establishing and making consistent such standards is a key piece of the puzzle as metal additive manufacturing continues to progress and see rising adoption.
This agreement offers a strong positioning in metal 3D printing as Titomic sees more interest in and growth of its business and TKF offering to customers with high-level needs.