Two French Government Grants Support JPB’s Aerospace Automation & Metal 3D Printing Activity

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JPB Système, a French aerospace/defense contractor that specializes in deploying automated production lines, announced that the company has been awarded two separate contracts for undisclosed amounts from the French government’s France 2030 initiative, one of which will directly augment JPB’s metal additive manufacturing (AM) operations. This development follows JPB’s announcement from earlier this month that the company had invested in Addimetal, a French metal binder jetting (MBJ) startup.

Originally launched in 2010, France 2030 is similar to the “Industry 4.0” plans that have been launched throughout the past decade or so by virtually every major government. The program was bolstered in 2021 by Emmanuel Macron’s administration, with its funding now totaling €54 billion. In line with France 2030’s current primary focus of decarbonization, one of the grants that JPB received is specifically for R&D into the emissions reduction possibilities of using MBJ for aerospace production.

JPB explores metal binder jetting. Image courtesy of JPB.

The other grant went to a JPB product called KeyProd, a “plug and play” solution for internet of things (IoT)-based, automated quality control monitoring. JPB received this grant on the basis of its potential to “increase France’s competitiveness,” suggesting that French policymakers may see production of IoT equipment for advanced manufacturing as a particular strength for France’s industrial base to lean into in coming years.

In a press release announcing the two France 2030 grants, JPB’s CEO, Damien Marc, said, “Our KeyProd production monitoring solution is already delivering quantifiable results for customers by enabling them to enjoy overall equipment effectiveness of up to 15 percent, thanks to the insight it offers into the causes of machine downtime. This funding will allow us to consolidate the existing baseline, develop new applications, and in due course launch a new product line to better track machine performance and production follow-up.” Regarding the grant for its development of its MBJ platform, Marc explained, “Crucially, this investment injection will allow us to confirm the results we have achieved in trials and stabilize the MBJ process for production. We believe that this technology will enable us to reduce production times for certain parts and speed up delivery times to customers, while the flexibility of MBJ also means that we can produce 100 completely different parts in the same time that it would take to produce 100 that are identical.”

As I mentioned in my post about JPB’s investment in Addimetal, I find the French AM sector interesting if only because it is one of the few markets where there currently seems to be action happening independently of China, Germany, Israel, and the US. It is fitting that France would be one of those markets, as two of the nation’s biggest economic strengths, aerospace and nuclear energy, are such ripe areas for AM potential, and above all, potential for the growth of metal AM.

Among other things, JPB should be watched as a data point reflecting the progress in France’s MBJ development, and related to that, Marc noted in the press release that, in 2024, the company will begin a study on the performance of stainless steel in MBJ platforms. The competition to conquer contemporary markets essentially takes the form of a race to gather and secure the best data, so that type of effort is the sort of thing that can help give smaller markets an edge over larger ones.

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