Earlier this month, Australian metal 3D printing company Aurora Labs announced that the building and testing of its Powder Production Unit (PPU) proof of concept had been completed. Once the process is proven, the company will be able to start developing different metal powders for its Large Format 3D printer (LFP) – bringing it one step closer to a full, integrated 3D printing platform.
Final testing has already begun, and now Aurora Labs has shared with us even further progress with the development of its PPU prototype.
All of the prototype’s critical subsystems have been tested, so the company has taken the next step and started using different parameters and conditions to test for powder production, which is a necessary step for commercialization. If development is successful, its proprietary, patent-pending powder production technology will be a major advancement in current powder production, with the ability to offer highly controlled powder characteristics and sizes, along with much lower production costs.
“We are progressing very rapidly with our powder development as we see the extensive opportunity here readily available. Metal powder production is critical to the mass adoption of metal 3D printing for manufacturing and our progress will open up a considerable market for us to tap into, as a single powder production unit could potentially produce up to 5 tonnes of powder per day,” said David Budge, Managing Director of Aurora Labs.
“There are obvious synergies between metal powder production and the potential demand created by additive manufacturing, such as with our Large Format Printer, and we intend to capitalise on this opportunity.”
It can take the patenting process several years to determine whether a patent will be granted or rejected, but if the company’s related patent applications end up being successfully granted, Aurora Labs will have a valuable edge over its competitors.
The company will potentially be able to use its new technology to produce metal 3D printing powders at larger volumes, and a more competitive price, in comparison to processes currently used by other powder manufacturers.
The current testing milestone for its PPU could allow Aurora Labs to begin developing a variety of consumable powders to benefit its LFP soon, which would mean a significant opportunity for profit as there’s a major international demand for metal powders, in addition to a potential high demand for the LPF itself. Once these powders are fully developed, the company believes that its high volume powder production will, according to a release, “meet the demand created by the anticipated high utilisation of consumables by the MFP and LFP.”
As Aurora Labs reaches the targets on the above timeline, it will announce the milestones to the market, and provide details about why the steps are important to the development process.
While the company’s history is rooted in metal 3D printing, Aurora Labs also plans to explore different commercial opportunities and business models in major international markets not related to 3D printing technology that have a high demand for metal powders, such as laser cladding, metal injection molding (MIM), powder metallurgy, and thermal spray; it’s already renewing its discussions with several global powder manufacturers, in an effort to get them involved in commercializing its new technology.
So long as all of the final testing goes as planned, Aurora Labs plans on building a full-sized PPU this year that’s able to produce high volumes of powder – possibly even up to five metric tons a day.
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