With a name like Metalysis, one can expect a lot of innovation in the ever-growing metal 3D printing field. Last year, the company, based in the UK, worked with TWI to prove the effectiveness of its tantalum powder in additively manufacturing customized hip replacements and spinal implants, and before that, developed a one-step process for producing metal powders from their oxides, to reduce environmental impact and improve end products. Metalysis recently entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Mkango Resources Limited, to work together on researching, developing, and commercializing novel rare earth metal alloys to make 3D printed permanent magnets.Mkango primarily explores in the Republic of Malawi, looking for rare earth elements and associated minerals; through its subsidiary Lancaster Exploration, Mkango holds a 100% interest in two exclusive prospecting licences in southern Malawi. The primary exploration target of its Phalombe license is the rare earths deposit in Songwe Hill, featuring carbonatite hosted rare earth mineralization. Mkango’s exploration targets of the Thambani license are niobium, uranium, and tantalum.
The first permanent magnets made using 3D printing technology emerged in late 2016. Rare earth permanent magnets are an extremely important component of many electric vehicles, and also other green and consumer technologies. China is the major leader of the rare earth permanent magnet industry, but Mkango has one of the only rare earths projects not in China that’s gone past the pre-feasibility stage, and is “well placed to respond to the global demand outlook.”
Metalysis, using its patented, industrial-proven production process for metals like titanium and tantalum and alloy powders, is committed to transforming the metals industry as we know it, and owns the global rights to disruptive technology that’s showing solid environmental and economic benefits over the more traditional methods of metal production. In terms of the new MOU, its solid-state process, capable of generating high margins from metal powder manufacturing for markets like 3D printing, will be combined with Mkango’s knowledge on the future global demand outlook for, and performance characteristics of, rare earth magnets.In terms of the MOU, Mkango and Metalysis are picturing a comprehensive R&D program, which will conclude in a joint search for commercial opportunities. One possible opportunity is an evaluation of the UK, to see if it would suffice as the future host country “for a manufacturing plant to exploit a commercialised technology.”
“We are very pleased to collaborate with Metalysis,” said William Dawes, Chief Executive Officer of Mkango. “It is a core part of Mkango’s strategy to be at the forefront of research and technology in every step of the rare earths supply chain; positioning the Company as a future low cost, sustainable supplier of rare earths used in electric vehicles and other green technologies, which have entered a new phase of accelerating demand growth. The R&D programme will seek to enhance marketing flexibility, increase future margins and affirm the Company’s competitive positioning.”
Mkango will use its existing cash resources to fund its share of the first R&D phase. Discuss in the Metalysis forum at 3DPB.com.