2020 was a unique and challenging year for everyone, the manufacturing sector included. As the year begins to sunset and vaccines for COVID-19 breach the horizon, high-performance metal powder manufacturer Equispheres has taken the opportunity to look ahead to what comes next, in particular with respect to aluminum powder for binder jetting.
“While there was a lot of disruption in 2020, there were also a lot of opportunities,” said Doug Brouse, VP of Strategic Partners and Alliances at Equispheres, “For many, the disruption created an environment for innovation, improvement and reexamination of business processes. Throughout the entire manufacturing supply chain, from raw materials to end-use manufacturers, we witnessed organizations stepping back to ask hard questions.” Brouse added, “I expect to see the industry bounce back in 2021 with the added benefit of this time spent on business improvement and innovation.”
Equispheres closed a $30 Million (CAD) fundraising round in early 2020, before the peak of the pandemic. This funding enabled them to focus on being strategic when the pandemic hit full force. Based on what they’ve seen in 2020. These are the 2021 predictions from the Equispheres team:
1. Aluminum alloy powder and binder compatible with at least one major binder jet printer brand will become available on the market.
2. A combination of several technologies, including improved feedstock, will result in at least a 25% decrease in powder-bed fusion part production costs.
3. Several new aluminum alloys designed specifically for additive manufacturing will arrive on the market.
4. We will see an overall increase in demand and availability of bespoke powders with unique characteristics in morphology, microstructure and PSD, for emerging applications.
“In general, we expect to see an increase in large-scale metal additive manufacturing applications in the automotive, aerospace and defense industries,” commented Kevin Nicholds, CEO of Equispheres. “We are already seeing the shift now and this will only accelerate as the technology becomes more production focused.”
Equispheres is a materials science engineering firm specializing in high-performance metal powders for AM in the automotive, aerospace, and defense industries. It should be noted that if a company like Equispheres thinks that aluminum will become available on a binder jetting platforms that’s probably going to be the case and this prediction should not be taken lightly.
For metal binder jetting to be the game-changer that many in the industry expect and want to be, in terms of higher productivity, the technology must be able to work with a widely used and affordable material such as aluminum. In general aluminum and its alloys are one of the most sought-after material families to increase production rates, while decreasing costs on any metal AM technology.