ALTANA has completed its acquisition of TLS, focusing on the metal 3D printing powder market.
The move was announced in September, and officially closed this week. ECKART, one of the four divisions of the specialty chemicals company, is expanding with the addition of TLS Technik GmbH & Co. Spezialpulver KG. The combined business operations are now known as ECKART TLS GmbH.
As acquisitions continue to reshape the 3D printing industry, consolidations in materials are expected to continue. ECKART is positioning itself in the metal powder business through acquisitions. Last year, it closed on the acquisition of UK-based Aluminium Materials Technologies (AMT). That portfolio expansion brought in a “patented special alloy A20X for lightweight components.”
Bringing in TLS adds “more than 25 years of experience” through integrating “one of the leading international specialists in the production of high‑quality metal powders for industrial 3D printing,” the announcement notes. Along with the expertise — and “some 40” experts to go along with them — the acquisition includes TLS’ production facility in Bitterfeld, Germany.
Together with the AMT additions, the TLS expansion will drive ECKART TLS forward in metal powders for additive manufacturing. The release explains:
“Hence the Bitterfeld site will become a center of excellence for metal-based 3D printing. In the future, ECKART will drive the optimization and development of metal powders, from aluminum to zirconium alloys, for 3D printing from this location together with the TLS and AMT experts, thus opening up new areas of application. In addition, metal powders for coating processes and other powder applications will be produced here.”
While ECKART TLS doesn’t seem to have a dedicated web presence yet, the TLS site offers a look into the materials they’ve been working with, applicable “for all common 3D-Printing Process”. Titanium, aluminum, and copper powders are specifically broken out as available products — but they say:
“Further we can offer powders from nearly all metals and alloys with melting point up to approx. 2600°C. We have experiences in atomization of a lot of metals and alloys, such as:
- Aluminium alloys
- Copper alloys
- Nickel alloys
If required, we atomize small lots or special alloys on your request.”
TLS has focused on spherical powders from reactive metals:
“Due to the crucible free melting process under inert gas atmosphere we get very pure, spherical powders. These powders are free of ceramical impurities and have a low oxygen content.”
That crucible-free melting process is “EIGA”: Electrode Induction-melting Gas Atomization. TLS notes that the process is specifically focused on reactive metal powders, and combines gas atomization with a crucible freemelting process.
Per ECKART TLS Managing Director Dr. Harald Weiss, the newly expanded team will be working on metal 3D printing solutions “from the development phase to industrial application.”
“TLS’s expertise in the manufacture of metal powders and alloys for metallic 3D printing supplements the strengths of ECKART as an experienced specialist in the atomization of metals,” says Dr. Wolfgang Schütt, President of ALTANA’s ECKART division. “With the acquisition, we are expanding our business with functional applications and positioning ourselves in a technological market of the future.”