UK-based metal powder manufacturer LPW Technology is well-known for its additive manufacturing powders, and has worked to develop advanced and environmentally-conscious processes to produce its industrial-grade materials, achieving AS 9120A and ISO 9001:2008 quality assurance certifications in January. Earlier this year, the company received a substantial strategic investment from Stratasys, and has now announced a strategic alliance with Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation (TNSC) to drive the production environment to adopt metal additive manufacturing (AM).
It’s a good match for this specific purpose: LPW is one of the top providers in the world of metal powders and metal powder quality control solutions for additive manufacturing, and TNSC is one of the largest suppliers of electronic, industrial, and specialty gases.
“This alliance with Taiyo Nippon Sanso is truly ground-breaking for the industry and will lead to further understanding of the total AM process and ultimately the development of more robust processes and novel alloys,” said Dermot Desmond, Asia Pacific Sales Manager, LPW. “Taiyo Nippon Sanso is experienced in operating in the industries we see as key to widespread AM adoption and is aligned with our laser-like focus on the safety-critical aerospace, biomedical, automotive and energy sectors.”
TNSC will work with its considerable amount of sales and distribution channels to supply a new range of AM metal powders, which LPW will develop and optimize. This supply chain will form only one part of the total solution, which also includes metal powders, gases, and metal heat treatment techniques, and all of the products will eventually be available through TNSC’s sales network.
TNSC is fully on board with metal AM, and employs a dedicated AM technical team at its gas application R&D lab in Japan. Besides its new partnership with LPW, the company is also developing partnerships with other AM technology providers, including Optomec.
“This will be the first integrated Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology Lab in Asia,” said Tadaharu (Ted) Watanabe, General Manager for Global Business Development and Global Operations, TNSC. “LPW’s understanding of AM from the perspective of the powder is globally recognised and combined with our knowledge of gases, heat treatment and welding, we are dedicated to the technical advancement of AM solutions to support and develop customer applications worldwide.”
For the moment, LPW’s new range of products will only be available through TNSC’s US subsidiary company Matheson Tri-Gas and its group sales hubs in China and Singapore. TNSC will also help eliminate defects, lower costs, streamline production, and secure supply for metal AM customers around the world, by using its industry knowledge and know-how in controlled gas atmospheres, welding processes, and metal heat treatment.
According to the Wohler’s Report 2017, the demand for AM metal powder is forecast to grow by 60% this year, and LPW is working to make sure it’s ready for the influx, investing in new manufacturing facilities in the UK that can process 1,000 tons of metal powder each year and developing its own broad range of metal AM services, alloys, and powders.
The company also developed PowderLife, its AM powder lifecycle management solution. PowderLife controls the risk for manufacturers, by managing the quality and traceability of LPW’s metal powders within the customer’s AM process. The solution includes powder-monitoring sensors, powder storage hoppers, and dedicated software that stores any material-related data, from atomization to usage, within the printer. Discuss in the LPW forum at 3DPB.com.