AMS Spring 2023

3D Printing for Aerospace & Industry: OPM Commercially Launches New Nickel-Plated OXFAB-Ni

6K SmarTech

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Additive manufacturing company Oxford Performance Materials (OPM), based in Connecticut, is a leader in both high performance additive manufacturing (HPAM) and advanced materials science. Back in 2014, the company used its patented OsteoFab technology to manufacture a customized implant for a Somali woman who grew up with a hole in her face from a bullet, and more recently, advanced composites manufacturer Hexcel made a strategic investment in the company, in order to work together to leverage its technology to advance additive manufacturing in aerospace. OPM’s latest news also centers around the aerospace industry: this week, the company announced the commercial launch of its new nickel-plated OXFAB-Ni.

Founded back in 2000, the company has three strategic business units: OPM Biomedical, the first company to receive FDA 510(k) clearance to manufacture 3D printed patient-specific polymeric implants; OPM Materials, which develops the company’s proprietary OXPEKK (poly-ether-ketone-ketone) thermoplastic products; and OPM Aerospace & Industrial. This last business unit produces 3D printed OXFAB production parts for demanding aerospace, defense, and satellite applications.

The new nickel-plated OXFAB-Ni, based on PEKK, can be used to manufacture 3D printed parts that will replace the high-performance aluminum alloys currently used in industrial and aerospace applications. OXFAB is designed to be a solution for these highly demanding end-market applications: structures made using the OXFAB selective laser melting process considerably reduce the cost, weight, and time-to-market. These reductions are defined, in the large OPM B-Basis database, in a specific set of performance attributes; the database was developed together with aerospace industry heavyweights Northrop Grumman and NASA.

OXFAB part

In the aerospace and defense industry, weight reduction and functional complexity really help increase the performance of a part, as well as lowering the overall cost and energy. As mentioned previously, OXFAB manufacturing can help lower the weight of the part: the process combines high-performance thermoplastic and robust additive manufacturing technology, which results in industrial structures that meet, and even go beyond, expectations for many industrial sectors; not just aerospace and aviation, but the energy, nuclear, and semiconductor fields can also benefit.

“We are very pleased to commercially launch OXFAB-Ni as this proprietary technology builds on our existing product portfolio to provide our customers with a new high performance additive manufacturing solution. With the launch of OXFAB–Ni, OPM can now offer our aerospace and industrial customers nickel-plated, fully functional end-use 3D-printed structural parts with a flexural strength-to-weight ratio equivalent to high performance titanium alloys such as 6AL-4V,” said Lawrence Varholak, President of OPM Aerospace & Industrial.

OXFAB–Ni Plated Fan Exit Guide Vane (22” H)

Some of the most beneficial performance characteristics of OXFAB-Ni include:

  • Offers near limitless shapes
  • Effective shield against radiation
  • Allows for rapid manufacturing
  • Capable of reaching up to 375°F
  • Same strength and weight as high-performance aluminum alloys

The main construction material for OXFAB-Ni is the company’s proprietary OXPEKK formulation. The polymeric material offers high purity and gamma stability, extreme temperature tolerance, very strong mechanical performance, and a very high resistance to chemicals. Discuss in the OPM forum at 3DPB.com.

 

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