BLT Breaks Ground on 163,200-Sq-Meter Metal 3D Printing Plant

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Xi’an Bright Laser Technologies Co., Ltd (BLT) is among an established crop of Chinese manufacturers of metal laser powder bed fusion (PBF) machines that are expanding both domestically and internationally. BLT in particular has been growing at an astounding rate, recording a 66 percent increase of revenues from 2021 to $140 million in 2022. As the firm undergoes tremendous expansion, BLT has now broken ground on a new 163,200-square-meter construction site that will allow it to manufacture metal 3D printing powders and custom metal parts.

Growth of a Metal 3D Printing Giant

Established in 2011, BLT was among the earliest Chinese manufacturers of metal PBF machines. Publicly listed on the SSE STAR Market since 2019, it boasts over 1,100 employees. In addition to manufacturing machines, it also produces titanium and Inconel powders with over 10 production lines as well as a 3D printing service bureau. Having installed its 200th metal LPBF machine for its own 3D printing service in 2021, BLT became possibly the largest provider of metal AM services by machine units.

The BLT S1000 3D printer.

By 2022, it had delivered thousands of metal 3D printers to over 20 countries and regions globally. That year, it also launched its BLT-S1000, a large-format machine with a build volume of 1200 x 600 x 1500 mm and eight to 12 500W lasers, enabling speeds of 300 cm³/h. This brings the total number of metal 3D printers offered by the company to 10. BLT claims a market value of about $2.53 billion, which would make it more valuable than any other publicly traded AM firm.

BLT’s 2023 Expansion

In 2023, it is expected to grow even more with a variety of initiatives already in the works. For instance, as the Chinese Association for Science and Technology aims to execute over 60 space launches and deploy more than 200 spacecraft throughout the year, BLT will be benefitting from the country’s burgeoning new space economy.

Lattice structure of the hydrazine bottle adapter 3D printed by BLT

Just one part the company has developed for new space is a load-bearing satellite adaptor that links the fuel storage container to the main satellite structure. Produced on the BLT-S600, the aluminum part features an external skin, internal latticework, and lightweight frame to reduce the overall weight by more than 60 percent compared to forging and casting.

These developments have driven BLT to break ground on its Phase IV AM and powder production factories in the High Tech Zone of Xi’an, China. Dedicated to production lines for metal 3D printing powder and customized, the site represents a total construction area of approximately 163,200 square meters.

Phases II and II already represent about 100,000 square meters one management building, a high-level R&D center, and six AM factories, signifying what the company describes as “the largest intelligent metal additive manufacturing factories in China.” Phase III, now under construction, takes up 190,000 square meters and is focused on design for AM, big data, intelligent equipment, unmanned factory automation and other areas.

A BLT metal 3D printing factory.

Because the company already collaborates with some of the largest names in manufacturing—including Airbus, Audi, AECC, COMAC, and HUAWEI—we can expect this growth to continue to ramp up. The question is whether or not the other firms, including GE and Nikon, can keep up. To learn more about this quick-growing company, BLT will be making its first U.S. appearance at RAPD + TCT next week. Under the name Xi’An Bright Laser Technologies Co. Ltd., the company will be at booth 1827.

Images courtesy of BLT.

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