One of Australia’s leading metal additive manufacturing companies Titomic has announced a partnership agreement with Ascent Aerospace, a U.S.-based provider of production and automated assembly systems for the aerospace, defense and space sectors. The companies will work together to bring Titomic’s Kinetic Fusion (TKF) additive process to Ascent’s associated aerospace customers.
Ascent has come to occupy an important role in the global aerospace industry: it is the leading provider of aerospace tooling systems, as well as an expert in assembly automation and factory integration. The company has a broad specialization, addressing assembly requirements for aircraft wing components, fuselage structures and more. Notably, Ascent is also the aerospace industry’s largest tooling and automation group, offering composite tooling, layup molds, mandrels, bond tools and trim and drill fixtures.
The aerospace provider typically works closely with airframers to see their projects from start to finish. This business model has resulted in a number of close partnerships with big aircraft manufacturers across the commercial aerospace, business aviation, defense, space launch and satellite industries.
The partnership between Ascent and Titomic aims to bring the TKF metal AM process into the former’s comprehensive offering. As Titomic explains, the collaboration is split into two phases. In the first phase, the validation phase, Titomic will manufacture an Ascent customer-approved Invar36 tool using its TKF9000 metal AM system, which will subsequently be tested. The company will also undertake a production feasibility trial in this phase.
The second phase is centered on adoption and will consist of the partners establishing a joint sales strategy for the supply of aerospace tooling using the TKF process. The AM technology is expected to reduce production lead times significantly, helping Ascent to meet growing customer demand.
“The significant increase in the global tooling market is being driven by the aerospace and defence industries’ compounding need for higher production rates of carbon fiber parts,” said Jeff Lang, Titomic Managing Director. “The increased use of carbon fiber parts in commercial aircraft has created a backlog in the supply of tooling that is not being resolved. Titomic’s partnership with Ascent Aerospace makes strategic sense to further validate the commercial opportunities for industrial scale metal additive manufacturing using Titomic’s TKF systems to resolve this current, and ongoing, backlog for tooling.”
Titomic already has extensive experience working with metal tooling for the aerospace and defense industries. At this point in the company’s trajectory, it believes that TKF can be employed as a new tooling solution, offering faster lead times, reduced material waste and improved tool performance through reduced porosity and increased wear resistance.
Michael Mahfet, CEO of Ascent Aerospace, added: “Our focused research & development activities in additive manufacturing technologies aligns with Ascent’s multi-year technology roadmap and realization of expansive efforts studying the benefits of these technologies within the aerospace tooling market. Staying at the forefront of additive manufacturing positions us to remain the leader in new and innovative tooling solutions, supporting strong collaboration with our customers and supplementing our in-house, vertically integrated design and fabrication capabilities. We look forward to working with Titomic in the advancement of metallic 3D printing for the aerospace tooling industry.”
Ascent already utilizes a range of additive technologies at its production facilities, including Thermwood’s large-format LSAM system, SLA, SLS and FDM, as well as metal AM processes like DMLS and DED.