Optomec has acquired Huffman, a North Carolina company that has established a leadership in supplying 3D metal printing systems for additive repair of gas turbine components in the energy and aviation markets. Huffman’s equipment and software are in production at virtually all major manufacturers of aircraft engines and industrial gas turbines, who use its metal deposition capabilities to restore worn or damaged components at substantially lower cost than newly-made spare parts.
At a strategic level, the acquisition combines Optomec’s broad horizontal market reach, across a wide range of industries and hundreds of customers, with Huffman’s deep penetration in the gas turbine market. The synergies extend to complementary product portfolios and technical expertise, which together sets the stage for accelerated growth in both businesses.
“Optomec and Huffman joining forces is exciting news in the additive manufacturing space,” said Christopher E. Thompson, general manager product service, GE Power. “Having used products from both companies, I know the complementary strengths of their portfolios and the value they provide to aerospace, defense, and power generation customers. Optomec’s innovative and affordable solutions in this space, combined with the robust, production-friendly equipment and intuitive user interfaces provided by Huffman are sure to enable new leaps in free-form additive manufacturing for repairs, new part build and hybrid manufacturing.”
Both Optomec and Huffman deliver a form of metal 3D printing that is known as Directed Energy Deposition (DED; tradename LENS). LENS has distinct advantages over the more widely-known form of metal printing referred to as Powder Bed Fusion (PBF), or Selective Laser Melting (SLM). In particular, LENS is able to print full parts at a fraction of the time and cost of PBF/SLM, yet with better material and mechanical properties. Additionally, LENS is uniquely able to add metal to existing parts for repair and coating applications that extend the useful life of components.
“The opportunity for additive manufacturing in repair applications is often overlooked, but when you consider that corrosion and wear cost the US economy $300 billion per year, and that the global commercial aviation industry spends almost $100 billion annually on repair, you can get a better sense of the magnitude of these markets,” said Mr. David Ramahi, president and CEO of Optomec. “With the Huffman acquisition, we aim to expand the use of DED/LENS repair for the existing installed base of more than 100,000 gas turbines and engines, while also leveraging that expertise to drive greater adoption of cost-effective repairs for mainstream industrial applications.”