Japanese Aerospace Leader Invests in 3DEO and Its Metal 3D Printing Tech


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Los Angeles-based metal 3D printing startup 3DEO has announced a key investment from IHI Aerospace Co., Ltd. (IA), a subsidiary of Japanese manufacturing leader IHI. This collaboration marks a significant step towards integrating advanced additive manufacturing (AM) capabilities, specifically 3DEO’s unique Intelligent Layering process, into the precision-focused world of Japan’s aerospace industry.

3DEO’s proprietary Intelligent Layering technology relies on a specialized nozzle to spray a binding solution across a bed of metal powder before a CNC mill shapes the external edges and detailed internal features of the part. After printing, this green-state item is sintered in a high-temperature furnace to reach its final, solid density.

Metal parts that have been CNC’d during the Intelligent Layering process. Image courtesy of 3DEO.

IHI is a roughly $10 billion manufacturer of everything from ships and rockets to bridges and aircraft engines, such as those for Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney, and GE. This includes the GE9X, which features a number of 3D printed parts. Now that IA has partnered with and invested in 3DEO, there’s a possibility that the company’s Intelligent Layering technique will make its way into some of these systems, if it isn’t already. Perhaps more interesting would be if IA’s use of the technology bled through to other divisions of IHI such that we could see 3DEO-made components in launch vehicles.

“We are deeply honored to partner with IA, a company that shares our vision for the future of aerospace manufacturing,” Matt Petros, CEO and Co-founder of 3DEO, commented. “This partnership underscores the incredible progress and potential of additive manufacturing, especially when coupled with a highly collaborative design for additive approach.”

Payman Torabi, CTO and Co-founder of 3DEO, added, “Working alongside IA presents an exceptional opportunity to apply our additive manufacturing technologies to the aerospace sector. It’s a collaboration that stands to reduce time-to-market and drive innovation.”

This partnership arrives on the heels of 3DEO’s recent strategic investments from the Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) and Seiko Epson Corporation, further accentuating the company’s growing influence in the global manufacturing sector. The investment by these Japanese entities is not only a significant endorsement for 3DEO but also marks a pivotal moment for Japanese involvement in the AM sector. Because DBJ is solely owned by the Government of Japan through the Minister of Finance, the country seems to be heavily betting on Intelligent Layering, though that doesn’t mean there won’t be competition from the likes of Mitsubishi. The collaboration between 3DEO and IA, alongside previous investments, illustrates a concerted effort to merge Japan’s meticulous engineering traditions with cutting-edge AM technologies, opening new avenues for productivity and manufacturing possibilities in both North America and Japan.

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