BeAM at formnext: The “Beginning of a Great Metallurgical Industry Story”

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20161117_115500Last week at formnext, France-based BeAM was on the scene in Frankfurt to present its industrial 3D printing machines – MOBILE and MAGIC 2.0, along with the latest machine, MODULO, which is set for availability in mid-2017. Appearing as quite a presence alongside partners Chromalloy and AddUp, the joint venture formed last year between Fives and Michelin. We’ve been following BeAM’s progress, and I had the opportunity to speak for some time with BeAM’s President, Emeric d’Arcimoles, and Tim Bell, Country Manager of BeAM US, to learn more about BeAM’s approach to the additive manufacturing market.

“Formnext is a key gathering of metal printing industry players, so this is a major event for BeAM. The sector has been enjoying dramatic growth. BeAM has a technological edge over all of its rivals in the manufacture of additive machines based on LMD-technology. We fully intend to remain ahead and become the world leader in the field,” d’Arcimoles said ahead of the event.

20161117_120249Within the past year, BeAM has hit several milestones as it continues its expansion and movement ahead in AM in its key French and US markets. As the company has noted, in 2016:

  • February: Emeric d’Arcimoles, appointed CEO of BeAM, following a career at Safran, including as the Deputy CEO. He had been advising BeAM on strategy since it was founded, and became a shareholder and board member at the end of 2014.
  • April: BeAM expanded its office space from 400m² to 1,800m² in order to keep up with expansion and allow for increased R&D and machine manufacturing activity.
  • May: Opened US subsidiary, BeAM Machines Inc., in Hebron, Kentucky, headed by Tim Bell. Bell had founded Microtek Finishing, and additionally worked for Morris Technology. The office in Hebron is located on the premises of Fives.
  • June: Won “Les As de l’innovation 2016’ prize at the Paris Air Forum
  • October: Won EY “Start-up of the Year’ prize for the East France region
  • October: Opened second US office in Cincinnati, Ohio

With this much activity only within the last handful of months, BeAM has been demonstrating a keen eye on expansion and progress. Sitting down with d’Arcimoles and Bell provided me with some level of insight into the company’s approach to the market.

20161117_120135

Tim Bell, General Manager, VP US Business Development, BeAM (left); Lionel Potron, Business Development Director, Chromalloy

“If we look at 3D printing as a whole,” Bell told me, “there is a base in Germany, but the US has adapted it more quickly. GE is the most vocal right now, but not the most advanced. Others are more advanced, but not so vocal.”

The Cincinnati office is a full-service facility for North America, benefiting from the deeper employment pool that the United States has to offer – though, Bell noted, this pool is not yet deep enough anywhere in this still-nascent industry.

“We want to train the people on this technology,” d’Arcimoles told me. “Safety and security is very important. We are very confident to have a significant share of this market in the US. The US market is very important, representing a huge investment for small companies. This also offers flexibility.”

“We are at the beginning of a very great story, a metallurgical industry story.”

20161117_120243BeAM is additionally setting its sights on Europe – all of Europe. Through working with different universities, the company is able to develop technology while supporting local industry and production. Notable expectations for the company lie in Turkey and the UK, and, in 2017, the company is looking as well toward India, Russia, Japan, and Singapore.

While BeAM was founded in 2012, the team has been working toward today’s presence for some time, working closely for years with Chromalloy. Lionel Potron, Chromalloy’s Business Development Director, took the time as well to fill me in on the benefits of their collaboration.

“What we want is something reliable with a machine that can produce,” Potron said of what Chromalloy sought from the partnership.

He walked me through the development of a particular aerospace component for a Pratt & Whitney turbine made possible through the collaboration. The component – “not an easy part, a rotating part, where cracks would lead to engine explosion” — required great precision in its manufacture, and was developed from 2007 to 2009, achieving FAA approval in 2009. Since then, the companies have used BeAM technology in order to repair thousands of parts. Parts that previously were incapable of repair and had instead to be fully replaced, for about €120,000, could now be repaired thanks to this technology for just €20. This effort represented the first independent engine repair provider in the world. Through use of BeAM’s technology to repair these parts, they were able to extend from about a 10,000-hour lifetime to a 50,000-hour lifetime  through four repair cycles.

“After more than 1 200 parts for flights being repaired Chromalloy acquired a MAGIC machine and a MOBILE machine to internalize the production of these references,” BeAM notes of this work.

Machines from BeAM include the currently available MAGIC 2.0, which is being delivered; MODULO machines are set for delivery in June 2017, with several pre-orders already having been taken.

“Our philosophy at BeAM is not to integrate the DED processes in existing machines and then ask our customers to adapt to the limits of technology. On the contrary, we develop customized machines which harness the potential of our processes, nozzles and software. This is what allows us to innovate continuously with our R & D ecosystem. Our machines are constantly evolving to meet more industrial applications opportunities and this is what the market expects,” said d’Arcimoles ahead of formnext.

Through focus on expansion and reliable technologies, BeAM is setting itself up to benefit from partnerships and complementary technologies. Through proven use in engine-critical parts, BeAM technology is showcasing its capabilities and proofs of concept, and we only expect to continue hearing more as the company works more throughout the United States and Europe.

All photos taken by Sarah Goehrke for 3DPrint.com on-site at formnext

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