ALTANA acquires TLS Technik Spezialpulver and Aluminium Materials Technologies to expand AM materials offering

Specialty chemicals group ALTANA has announced the acquisition of metal powder specialists TLS Technik Spezialpulver and Aluminium Materials Technologies (AMT), advancing the group’s ECKART division.

The double buyout will serve to strategically expand ECKART’s 3D printing materials portfolio with the development of new and novel alloys for industrial applications.

Martin Babilas, CEO of ALTANA, states: “With this step we are continuing to implement ALTANA’s strategy of generating value-creating growth through targeted acquisitions, even in difficult economic times.”

Inside an ALTANA ECKART production facility. Photo via ECKART.
Inside an ALTANA ECKART production facility. Photo via ECKART.

Metal powder production with TLS 

TLS has been producing high-quality metal 3D printing powders out of Bitterfeld, Germany for over 25 years. According to Dr. Wolfgang Schütt, head of ALTANA’s ECKART Division, TLS’ expertise in the field will complement ECKART’s specialist knowledge in the atomization of metals greatly, and the pair will be working to develop new functional applications for their joint materials.

As it stands, ECKART offers corrosion protection materials, ingredients for the production of aerated concrete, and even fuels for space travel. As part of the acquisition, ECKART will also be taking over TLS’ Bitterfeld production facility along with around 40 of its employees, integrating its operations to advance some of ECKART’s existing offerings. The transaction is still subject to approval by the antitrust authorities, but is expected to take place by the end of 2020.

AMT and the A20X alloy

UK-based AMT is known for the development of the now-patented A20X 3D printing aluminum alloy, a lightweight material characterized by its high strength and excellent mechanical properties. It is primarily intended for the laser powder bed fusion process, and was specially formulated for high stress, high temperature applications. An ultimate tensile strength of 511MPa, a yield strength of 440MPa, and an elongation at break of 13% make for significantly better fatigue properties when compared to similar Al-Si based 3D printing alloys.

Through the acquisition, ECKART will now have full access to the novel material, and will be able to further develop it for the production of aerospace components.

Dr. Schütt concludes: “AMT and its A20X alloy complement TLS’ capabilities, enabling us to offer users even more high-performance materials in the future, including in the aerospace industry, a key market for metallic 3D printing.”

A part made of A20X alloy. Photo via AMT.
A part made of A20X alloy. Photo via AMT.

The quality of the powder in a metal 3D printed part is often just as important the machine used to fabricate it. APWORKS, a specialist in aerospace 3D printing, has previously announced that its aluminum alloy, Scalmalloy, was added to the Formula 1 regulations as an approved additive manufacturing material. The high strength alloy was originally developed by APWORKS and its parent company Airbus for aerospace components but has since found its uses in other high performance applications such as motorsports.

Elsewhere, EOS, the global leader in LB-PBF systems, expanded its offering of additive powders earlier this year with the release of eight new metal powders and processes for use with its M 290, M 300-4, and M 400-4 3D printing systems. The new material set consists of one Premium and seven Core products. The Premium material is ToolSteel 1.2709, an ultra-high strength maraging steel designed for high-stress molding applications.

The 4th annual 3D Printing Industry Awards are coming up in November 2020 and we need a trophy. To be in with a chance of winning a brand new Craftbot Flow IDEX XL 3D printer, enter the MyMiniFactory trophy design competition here. We’re happy to accept submissions until the 30th of September 2020.

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Featured image shows inside of an ALTANA ECKART production facility. Photo via ECKART.