3D Printing News Briefs, December 25, 2021: Business, Metal Powder, & More

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Merry Christmas! In celebration of the holiday, we’re giving you a gift: this weekend’s 3D Printing News Briefs! We’ll start off with some good news, as Lithoz has been named as one of the top five spin-off companies in Austria, and move on to materials, as Formlabs developed two biocompatible resins and AP&C is working with Airbus to provide titanium powders. We’ll end with a little business, as Equispheres brings on a new Chief Operating Officer and Hitachi Metals and A*Star have extended their AM partnership.

Lithoz Named Top University Spin-off in Austria

Ceramic 3D printing leader Lithoz GmbH, a spin-off of TU Wien, was named as one of the top five successful Austrian spin-off companies by the Spin-Off Austria Initiative, which aims to encourage entrepreneurship in university students by creating a database of these spin-offs to track and promote growth. Austrian investors Hermann Hauser and Herbert Gartner founded the initiative to raise awareness and support for the country’s universities to make entrepreneurship a mission as important as teaching and research, as well as to encourage the development of 1,000 university spin-off companies by the year 2030.

Over 50 Austrian universities were asked to provide data for and take part in the initiative with their top spin-off companies. TU Wien nominated Lithoz, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, as well as its new top five spin-off status. With its range of ceramic 3D printers and materials being used in a variety of different applications, the company has successfully made the jump from spin-off to global market leader in 3D printed ceramics.

Formlabs Develops Two New Biocompatible Resins

To expand its healthcare offering, Formlabs announced that it’s developed two new biocompatible materials, which were shown to the public for the first time at RSNA 2021. BioMed White Resin and BioMed Black Resin, which will be USP Class VI certified, were created for applications that typically prefer opaque materials for aesthetic quality or functionality, and will add diversity to the medical resins currently available to the healthcare sector, so that both patients and providers can benefit. The company’s BioMed Resin line is known for its long-term stability, excellent performance, and sterilization compatibility, and these two new biocompatible resins will make improved ergonomics more accessible through reliable surgical planning, custom healthcare research tools, and fast medical device iterations.

“The value of 3D printing within the healthcare industry cannot be understated. The 3D printing applications in healthcare are vast, from improving patient education through more accurate, real-time modeling, to supporting a more personalized approach to medical devices to better outcomes in the operating room with 3D printed surgical guides. These applications each require materials that are both effective and safe for medical uses,” stated Gaurav Manchanda, Director of Medical Market Development at Formlabs. “The addition of these resins to Formlabs’ materials library will allow for greater flexibility in design and function and can be used in a variety of applications ranging from medical device manufacturing, biopharmaceutical processing, and consumer goods such as medical device components, wearables, and custom dental appliances.”

AP&C Signs New Agreement with Airbus for Titanium Powders

AP&C inks new agreement with Airbus to provide Titanium powders.

GE Additive company AP&C announced the signing of a new multi-year agreement with Airbus to provide titanium (Ti-6AI-4V) powders for metal 3D printing applications. AP&C continues to invest in plasma atomization technology in order to maintain high quality while bringing costs down, and offers large-scale production of plasma atomized titanium, nickel, and aluminum powders. The company has grown its capacity to over 1,000 tons of titanium powder a year, making it a leader in the field. As AP&C’s CEO Alain Dupont explained, metal AM adoption in the regulated aerospace industry continues to grow, and one of the important factors in matching that growth is by setting up a strong supply chain—which includes qualified powder.

“Our approach is to be more than just a supplier of metal powders to our customers,” said Dupont. “To scale metal additive manufacturing, acceleration can only be achieved by sharing knowledge best practice to lower risk and increase stability. One way we have supported Airbus in recent years, for example, has been to help its in-house additive manufacturing team establish its own methods and processes to qualify Ti-6AI-4V powders.”

Equispheres Hires Chief Operating Officer to Lead Ottawa Production

Calvin Osborne, Equispheres COO

Speaking of metal powder, materials science company Equispheres has hired Calvin Osborne as its Chief Operating Officer to lead the next phase of production and commercialization of metal powder at its Ottawa manufacturing facility. Osborne, a professional engineer and experienced product development and manufacturing executive who’s led R&D teams and holds patents for several medical devices, will use his business insight and technical skills to help scale and commercialize the company’s metal powder technology in order to meet increased market demand. The company’s high-performance aluminum 3D printing powders are made using a unique atomization process that can create spherical particles, and third-party testing shows that its feedstock can print three times faster than traditional powder, as well as achieve 50% part cost reductions.

“Equispheres’ feedstock holds promise to radically reduce the cost of additive manufacturing such that it can economically compete with traditional production-volume manufacturing technologies. I’m excited to join the talented team at Equispheres to help drive the company towards this vision,” Osborne said.

Hitatchi Metals & A*Star Extend 3D Printing Partnership

Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng touring the SIMTech-Hitachi joint lab at Hitachi Metals’ plant in Tuas on Dec 3, 2021. Straits Times photo: Mark Cheong

In more metal 3D printing powder news, Hitachi Metals Singapore (HMS) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*Star) Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) have extended their existing partnership and joint lab collaboration for an additional three years. The lab, located at Hitachi’s facility, houses a SIMTech atomizer that can produce both reactive and non-reactive metal powders in smaller quantities for companies working to develop their 3D printing capabilities. The two partners will also invest an additional $8.5 million in the SIMTech-Hitachi Metals joint lab, bringing the total investment amount since 2018 up to $14 million. The country’s Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng witnessed the signing ceremony marking the joint lab’s extension at Hitachi Metals’ plant in Pioneer, noting that public-private partnerships like these can be the impetus for innovation.

“3D printing allows for highly customisable and complex designs to be made without the initial start-up costs that come with traditional manufacturing processes,” said SIMTech’s Executive Director David Low. “With supply chains around the world now facing difficulties, 3D printing may come into play to help with these chokes along the supply chain.”

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