Materials

Equispheres metal powders gets $5m boost from Lockheed Martin

American global aerospace and defense company Lockheed Martin has invested $5 million in Canadian materials manufacturer Equispheres. The funds will enable the company to expand its powder products for additive manufacturing and cold spray processes, it also serves as an investment by Lockheed into Canada’s industrial technology sphere.

Charles Bouchard, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin Canada, comments, “We are very pleased to see our Investment Framework grant going to such an innovative industry leader like Equispheres,”

“The success of this investment is another great example of how large international aerospace companies such as Lockheed Martin can collaborate with smaller businesses in Canada to create opportunities for lasting growth in the Canadian economy.”

Equispheres' metal powders (left) vs other atomized powder (right) with highlighted particle agglomerates (orange, green) and variable particle size (yellow). Image via Equispheres
Equispheres’ metal powders (left) vs other atomized powder (right) with highlighted particle agglomerates (orange, green) and variable particle size (yellow). Image via Equispheres

Uniform, free-flowing powders

Equispheres’ metal powders are made using a patent-pending atomization technology. In contrast to some other techniques, the Equispheres process seeks to create powders of consistently sized, spherical particles.

Free-flowing and flour-like, these powders are ideal for use in powder bed fusion technologies, as particle conformity is critical to the quality of a finished 3D printed part.

Equispheres products have been on the market since 2016 and include aluminum alloy. With the investment from Lockheed Martin, Equispheres expect to grow its existing workforce tenfold, from 20 employees to over 200, over the next five years.

Lockheed Martin Canada

In 2010, Lockheed Martin fulfilled the Royal Canadian Airforce’s order of seventeen CC-130J Super Hercules aircraft. This deal was associated with the Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefit (ITB) Policy, created to “help ensure that defence and security procurements going forward are better leveraged to create jobs and economic growth in Canada.”

A Lockheed Martin CC-130J Super Hercules aircraft. Photo via Fifty Sky Shades
A Lockheed Martin CC-130J Super Hercules aircraft. Photo via Fifty Sky Shades

The Equispheres investment is a demonstration of Lockheed’s continued support of Canada’s ITB, creating a great deal of commitment within the region.

Across Montreal, Quebec, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Victoria and Ottawa, Lockheed Martin employees an estimated 900 people. In total, the company has invested over $35 million in Canada’s small businesses, R&D companies and universities.

In North America, the company recently unveiled plans for a $350 million satellite production facility, that will use 3D printing, and granted the Metropolitan State University of Denver, a new $1 million additive manufacturing facility.

Canada – a (laser) hot-bed of metal powder production

Over the years Canada has developed a somewhat regional cluster of metal powder production. AP&C, initially purchased by Arcam and now owned by GE Additive, is based in St-Eustache, Québec. The technology in use at AP&C was developed by PyroGenesis, in Montréal, Québec. PyroGenesis, with their expertise in plasma, is continuing to develop advanced methods for metal powder production.

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Featured image shows spherical metal powders produced by Equispheres. Image via Equispheres

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