Space 3D Printing Firm ADDMAN Buys Castheon; Second Acquisition in a Month 


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Focused on deepening its space industry expertise, ADDMAN Engineering acquired Castheon, a laser powder bed fusion process developer and leading provider of additive manufacturing (AM) technologies for mission-critical space applications. The move follows Addman’s strategy to become a top-tier 3D printing service provider for the space industry, one of the fastest-growing sectors, expected to become a trillion-dollar market in the next decade.

Although the terms of the deal were not fully disclosed, ADDMAN will also bring in Castheon founder and president Youping Gao, along with his company’s refractory metals expertise, which is considered ideal for 3D printing a wide range of niche applications critical to successful space missions, like rocket engine components. Gao will join ADDMAN as Chief Scientist and Employee Value Proposition (EVP) of Technology.

Commenting on the deal, ADDMAN CEO Joseph Calmese said, “this investment affirms Addman’s strategic proposition in space. We believe that the technologies created by Dr. Gao will revolutionize the additive manufacturing industry and transform thinking around component development for the end markets that Castheon serves. Dr. Gao’s accomplishments represent the cutting-edge of additive manufacturing, especially in refractory metals applications and solutions for the space industry.”

Furthermore, Calmese pointed out that the combination between Gao’s AM knowledge and Addman’s national scale, operations excellence, and incredible team will serve customers in exciting new ways. “Our journey continues… stay tuned for more,” hinted the executive.

Castheon's 3D printed double-wall turbine blades from a refractory metal

Castheon’s 3D printed double-wall turbine blades from a refractory metal. Image courtesy of Castheon.

Founded in 2016, Castheon has turned into an innovative developer of AM processes and a leading metals additive manufacturer for demanding end markets. Thanks to its deep expertise in metals printing and process development, it expanded the use of traditionally difficult to manufacture refractory metals. Throughout the last few years, it has partnered with next-generation spacecraft companies to design, develop, and print complex components with quick turnaround times. Gao has even acted as principal investigator for NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), developing AM methodologies primarily for propulsion systems technology using the refractory metal Niobium.

Reflecting on the new direction of his company, Gao explained on a social media post, “Four years ago, I transitioned from a 20-year career at Aerojet Rocketdyne to start Castheon. Back then, it was the desire to advance the state of the art in additive manufacturing, improve robustness for industrialization, and develop AM-specific alloys. I’m proud that Castheon delivered those enhancements and guided the industry to new heights along the way.”

Following several career milestones, like obtaining the first NASA certification for additive manufacturing production for crewed spaceflight and teaching graduate and undergraduate students about AM at California State University Northridge (CSUN), Gao has amassed vast experience building advanced manufacturing capabilities for large companies and his early-stage venture. Prior to the acquisition, his startup made major breakthroughs in technology to print refractory metals, including demonstrated success in complex applications such as reaction control system (RCS) thrusters for spacecraft customers.

“Castheon’s technology and know-how, combined with Addman’s scale and resources, will supercharge the next chapter of Castheon’s growth,” adds Gao. “ADDMAN brings a national manufacturing and engineering footprint with over 300 employees, dozens of additive manufacturing machines and key quality certifications, and over 100 traditional subtractive machines to Castheon’s customer base.”

ADDMAN owns six facilities across the United States with at least 24 additive machines sitting on 177,000 square feet of scalable footprint, capable of providing the resources needed for any stage and size project. One of the latest 3D printing systems acquired was a Velo3D Sapphire installed at Addman’s Indianapolis facility in 2021 and dedicated to running Inconel 718 for a wide variety of industries, including aerospace, that demand immediate production. However, worldwide interest in AM requires ADDMAN to bring in even more 3D printing systems, which is why the engineering firm has already ordered additional machines from Veloe3D to be delivered in 2022.

Established by the American Industrial Partners (AIP) in 2020 from its $8 billion private equity funds, ADDMAN uses AM and advanced technologies to enable product development and manufacturing breakthroughs for its customers. Seeking to establish the brand as an end-to-end solutions provider capable of supporting mission-critical AM applications, traditional machining, and post-processing needs, it has established several subsidiaries under its umbrella.

This latest acquisition of Castheon comes just a month after ADDMAN bought Minnesota-based precision manufacturer Domaille Engineering and less than a year after the purchase of 3rd Dimension Industrial 3D Printing, a Westfield, Indiana provider of metal AM solutions. Today, Domaille leads an integrated group of manufacturing businesses focused on aerospace, defense, national security, and telecommunications customers. Through this expansion, ADDMAN expects to continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the manufacturing sector and its vertically integrated model, continually working on a radically innovative adaption of AM technologies.

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