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New AM Metal Powder Factory

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LPW's PowderTrace hopper with PowderEye sensor to monitor temperature, moisture, oxygen, pressure and weight.

LPW Technology, a provider of metal powders and software solutions for additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3-D printing, is pioneering an AM metal powder factory for a new generation of clean powders suitable for use in production of safety-critical industries such as aerospace, medical and automotive.

"LPW's $28.4 million facility is the world's first purpose-built production plant exclusively focused on the manufacture of AM metal powders," said a company spokesperson. Located near Liverpool, UK, the 90,000 sq. ft. building sits on a seven-acre site and introduces full material traceability, digital integration and strict contamination control to the production process.

"Growth in AM is forecast to be strong, with extraordinary compound annual growth rates," said the spokesperson. "A recent Arizton Advisory and Intelligence report predicts the global market will reach $11 billion by 2022, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27%. Anticipating the increasing requirement for AM-specific powder, LPW has built a facility fit for the 21st century, capable of fulfilling demand for quality material produced in a clean environment."

The control of contamination in metal powder feedstock, and the wider production environment, is key to AM built parts delivering the mechanical properties expected of them. Among other issues, humidity, oxygen pick up or accidental contact with different powders can all cause issues with, for example, porosity, cracking or build stalling, ultimately leading to part failure.

"LPW's factory has been designed with cleanroom levels of contamination control never before seen in the manufacture of AM metal powders," said the spokesperson. Pressure, temperature and humidity are controlled, with segregation of cells for specific materials, and the different areas divided by air showers and interlocking doors. It will produce the next iteration of metal powders, developed specifically for AM, with a focus on purity, size, consistency, cleanliness and traceability of material.

LPW has invested strongly in an advanced R&D and product development program. It now features PowderLife, an innovative range of tailored metal powders, transportation and storage solutions as well as powerful software and sensors to trace and monitor powders. The PowderLife system has been designed to support AM in production and will be fully integrated into LPW's operations.

Utilizing all the elements of PowderLife, LPW's digital factory will deliver full material traceability to the AM metal powder production process. Its PowderSolve quality control software manages data from metal powders across multiple locations and multiple machines, adding a complete audit trail to the supply chain-crucial for safety-critical sectors such as aerospace, F1 and medical that are using this technology.

It is the advantages of AM over traditional processes that are the key factors driving the market. For example, in medical applications, AM offers fast, accurate personalization of bio-compatible implants.

AM can also produce complex internal geometries that consolidate components and significantly reduce weight. An example of the benefits of this freedom of design is GE's 3-D printed fuel nozzle for its LEAP engine. Combining 20 parts into a single unit 25% lighter than its predecessor and five times more durable, it contributed to a fuel efficiency improvement of 15% compared to the previous engine.

LPW is accredited to AS 9120A for aerospace and ISO 13485 for medical applications, implementing robust quality management processes that assure the integrity of the tightly controlled metal powders it supplies to safety-critical sectors world-wide.

Building on its experience in the aerospace sector, LPW has a strategic partnership with internationally recognized Airbus APWorks to support the global requirements for high-strength aluminum with Scalmalloy AM metal powder.

"Scalmalloy is the first material specifically developed for AM, offering a unique level of corrosion resistance. Its high strength-to-weight ratio makes it perfect for light-weighting applications, crucial to optimizing component design, and enables the lowest buy-to-fly ratio compared to conventionally designed and manufactured parts.

For more information contact:

LPW Technology Inc.

110 South Campus Drive

Imperial, PA 15126



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