Sustainable, low-cost titanium developer IperionX (IPX) has become listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange.
IperionX began trading on Nasdaq under the ticker ‘IPX’ on June 21, 2022, while also maintaining its listing on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). In the long-term, the firm’s CEO Taso Arima says becoming listed in the US is expected to provide it with “increased liquidity,” and expose it to new institutional and retail investors.
“The Nasdaq listing comes at an important time in IperionX’s growth path, as we look to scale our patented titanium metal powder technologies in the US using 100% recycled titanium feedstock, and progress our rare earth and titanium critical mineral project in Tennessee with the completion of an economic scoping study,” Arima added in a statement.
Realizing the potential of titanium
According to IperionX, titanium is abundant, strong and highly corrosion-resistant, but it’s currently held back by the process used to produce it. Known as the ‘Kroll’ process, this workflow effectively sees ores like ilmenite and rutile treated with carbon and chlorine to create titanium tetrachloride, which is then fractionally distilled to eliminate impurities.
To accelerate what it describes as a long, “nasty” chlorination process that necessitates working with corrosive materials, IperionX has therefore sought out an alternative that bypasses the step altogether. This search has seen the firm secure an exclusive license to a technology that yields feedstock with an inherently lower oxygen content, and converts titanium oxide directly into a usable metal.
IperionX’s hydrogen-assisted magnesium thermic reduction or ‘HAMR’ approach is said to not only be cheaper and more efficient than the Kroll process, but more eco-friendly as well, as it enables the creation of titanium from up to 100% recycled feedstock, whether this be in the form of 3D printing powder or a bar, plate or wire.
By rolling out its technology at scale, IperionX believes it can facilitate a US shift towards a low-to-zero carbon green economy. The company also says the process’ commercialization will allow titanium to be deployed in more structural applications, in which it’ll yield higher durability products with greater reusability.
That being said, IperionX isn’t the first to have developed an alternative to the Kroll process. As long ago as 2016, Metalysis’ Dr. Kartek Rao told 3D Printing Industry about the low-cost Fray, Farthing, Chen (FFC) method of producing titanium for manufacturing. At the time, Kartek boasted that the firm had the intellectual property and backing needed to roll this approach out on a larger scale, yet despite this, the traditional Kroll process continues to find widespread usage.
Commercializing the ‘HAMR’ process
While IperionX says it’s already working with US federal state governments and agencies on applications for its technology, the firm also admits that it’s still in the commercialization phase. As such, the company continues to scale production at its Pilot Facility in Salt Lake City, with the aim of establishing a complex capable of achieving an initial target capacity of 125 tonnes per year by the end of 2022.
As of March 2022, the facility in Utah is said to have achieved a run rate capacity of around 1.5 tonnes per annum, with improvements set to see this reach 6.5 tonnes by the conclusion of Q2 2022. At the same time, Arima also claimed that IperionX was beginning to “see strong interest from potential customers” in its materials, and it has since deployed them in partner testing and prototype production runs.
In the past, one way the company has sought to capture the attention of investors, and raise the capital needed to fund its expansion efforts, is via its current listing on the ASX. However, during its first 24 hours trading on the Nasdaq exchange, the firm’s shares have remained flat at $7.02.
IperionX says the process of becoming Nasdaq-listed itself, won’t see it raise any cash, but its SEC registration statement shows that it has listed 100 million American Depositary Shares at a price of $5.00 each. Depending on the level of demand shown for its stock, the firm therefore stands to raise a significant amount of capital towards funding its operations and harnessing other business opportunities.
Cashing in on US investor interest
A rising number of 3D printing-related firms have gone public on the US stock exchange over the last year, in an effort to capitalize on investor interest there. While the industry saw an $11 billion boom in SPAC mergers during 2021, this trend now appears to have subsided, with most of those going public now choosing to do so via traditional IPOs instead.
In the medical sector, for instance, biotechnology specialist BIOLIFE4D has also filed for a $17.5 million IPO. Leveraging the cash raised from its offering, the firm says that it intends to expand its R&D operations, as a means of “commercializing” the mini 3D bioprinted heart it has been developing for at least four years.
One company that has already managed to make such a move work, is meat 3D bioprinting specialist MeaTech, which raised $28 million via its IPO on the Nasdaq Capital Market last year. Since then, the firm has utilized this funding to accelerate its plans to enter chicken fat production, and 3D bioprinted a 3.67 oz steak.
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Featured image shows engineers working at one of IperionX’s pilot facilities. Photo via IperionX.