Additive Industries North America sold 6 MetalFAB1 systems to an undisclosed aerospace company located in California. Considering the cost of a MetalFAB1 system is over one million dollars per unit there aren’t many companies that could afford such a purchase. The list of large aerospace companies with facilities in California includes Northrop Grumman, CDG (a Boeing company) and GKN Aerospace (near San Diego), all of which are investing significantly in expanding their internal AM activities. In particular, GKN is a likely candidate as the Group had been a Beta client for Additive Industries, purchasing its first MetalFAB1 system in 2016, to make automotive parts.
Whichever the aerospace firm is, this investment validates the Additive Industries’ concept of production-based metal powder bed fusion systems for maximum overall equipment efficiency. When the order for six machines arrives at the customer site later this year, it will bring the installed base of MetalFAB1 systems to 10 with more to come in 2020.
Using the four systems currently in operation, the aerospace company was able to consolidate approximately 700 kilograms of powder in the month of June. The application represents an inflection point in metal powder bed fusion part production where candidate parts were typically limited to fist size volumes to meet ROI calculations. With the MetalFAB1 systems, this customer is now able to cost-effectively produce over parts that are 420 mm in diameter by 400 mm in height, weighing up to 180 kilograms.
“This part is likely the largest, most complex powder bed fusion part ever produced in series production. We are proud of our multi-disciplinary team that worked with this customer to make this production reality as well as the capabilities of our MetalFAB1 systems to print for days back to back”, said Shane Collins, General Manager for Additive Industries North America, Inc. “This order will bring the North America MetalFAB1 installed base to 17 systems, which has been achieved since machine #1 was installed late in 2017.”Considering each system has four, 500 Watt lasers, the powder consolidation capabilities would equal roughly 68 single laser systems”, he added.
In order to cater to this expected growth in demand, Additive Industries had expanded its operations for industrial 3D metal printing equipment and software development, sales and service to North America in late 2017 and hired additive manufacturing veteran Shane Collins to lead the Process & Application Development Center which was subsequently established in Southern California.
“The fast growth in North America is partly due to our focus on the aerospace sector and the aeronautics adoption curve for production additive manufacturing. We expect this growth to further accelerate when our customers publicly release their applications and more companies are able to visualize the large, complex parts that can be manufactured on the MetalFAB1 system in titanium, aluminium, steel and nickel based alloys”, added Daan Kersten, CEO of Additive Industries.
Additive Industries Camarillo, CA facility houses MetalFAB1 demonstration systems and support process and application development for North America.