June of 2021 was dominated by major announcements in the aerospace and on-demand manufacturing spheres. News included 3D printed flight-ready SLS parts for Airbus, Relativity Space raised $650 million, and GE announced plans for a new jet engine using 3D printing technology. Additionally, Xometry went public, 3D Systems sold its on-demand manufacturing business, and ExOne announced deliveries of more than two million metal parts to its customers worldwide.
Advancements in aerospace 3D printing
The sixth month of 2021 commenced with additive manufacturing service provider Materialise being qualified to produce flight-ready SLS components for aerospace company Airbus. The firm has now started 3D printing parts made of EOS’ flame-retardant polyamide (PA) powder, PA 2241 FR, making Materialise and EOS the first companies approved to 3D print parts under Airbus Process Specification AIPS 03-07-022.
It’s worth noting that the qualification is valid across Airbus’ entire global business, meaning systems developed by the company’s other divisions are also able to utilize the 3D printing material.
Bart Van der Schueren, CTO of Materialise, said, “This achievement consolidates our long-term partnership with Airbus, and it also opens up additional 3D printing applications to Airbus and its suppliers. Laser sintering is one of the most widely used 3D printing technologies and enables complex design features such as interlocking mechanisms. It’s an honor for Materialise to be Airbus’s first manufacturer for the technology.”
Elsewhere, rocket manufacturer Relativity Space raised $650 million in Series E funding to ramp up the production of its Terran R rocket, the company’s first reusable, fully 3D printed launch vehicle. Intended as a direct challenger to Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the Terran R will eventually serve as a ‘space freighter’, allowing customers to carry out missions between the Earth, Moon, and even Mars.
“From our founding days in Y Combinator just five years ago, we planned on 3D printing Terran 1 and then Terran R – a 20x larger fully reusable rocket – on our Factory of the Future platform,” said Tim Ellis, CEO, and co-founder of Relativity Space. “Today, we are one step closer to this goal.“
Aerospace manufacturers GE Aviation and Safran announced the commencement of a demonstrator project focused on test-building a new metal 3D printing-enabled, open-bladed jet engine. Dubbed RISE (Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines), the environmentally-conscious engine is intended as a successor to the previously developed LEAP model, which is used on the Boeing 737 MAX and some Airbus A320neo aircraft.
A GE Additive spokesperson told 3D Printing Industry, “Yes, metal 3D printing will be part of the RISE program. We plan to use additive manufacturing in a variety of ways. For example, multiple turbomachinery components will use additive technology to support the complex geometries. We will share more details as the program develops.”
Major announcements in on-demand additive manufacturing
In June, 3D printer manufacturer 3D Systems agreed to sell its on-demand manufacturing business. Acquired by private equity firm Trilantic North America and industry veteran Ziad Abou for $82 million, the company’s five on-demand production sites in the U.S. and Europe are now operating as service providers under the revived ‘QuickParts’ banner.
As part of the acquisition agreement, Ziad Abou, who held the roles of Senior VP and General Manager of 3D Systems’ on-demand manufacturing division for nearly a decade, became CEO of the reformed QuickParts.
“We are continuing to aggressively execute our four-phase plan that we announced a year ago, to position the company for exciting growth and profitability as the market for industrial-scale AM continues to expand,” said Dr. Jeffrey Graves, President and CEO of 3D Systems. “The on-demand manufacturing business is solid, and it has a very bright future under the stewardship of Trilantic North America.”
Elsewhere, binder jet 3D printer manufacturer ExOne reached a milestone of its own with its Metal 3D Printing Adoption Center, delivering over two million metal parts to its customers worldwide. The facility has been producing parts continuously since 2005, and now runs 24/7 with over 28 metal 3D printers.
The company also revealed that it added two new X1 25Pro binder jet printers to the center in a bid to bolster the production of stainless steel parts for industrial customers.
Finally, on-demand manufacturing marketplace Xometry revealed plans to go public on the NASDAQ Global Select Market. Before the end of the month, the company launched a $252 million Initial Public Offering (IPO) and is now listed under the ticker ‘XMTR’. A total of 6,875,000 shares of Class A common stock were made available for public purchase, with a further 1,031,250 being offered directly to the IPO’s underwriters at a flat rate.
“Xometry’s 2021 performance was outstanding,” said Randy Altschuler, Xometry’s CEO. “We remain in the early innings of the secular digitization of the manufacturing industry, one of the largest industries in the world. We continue to grow our great team to build out the leading global on-demand manufacturing marketplace.”
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Featured image shows a concept render for the upcoming RISE jet engine. Image via CFM International.