Following a strategic decision to delay commercial production, the Montreal-based firm was able to implement improvements and has now tested for batch to batch consistency in its production line. The refinement period enabled Pyrogenesis to increase its production rate, lower CAPEX, lower OPEX, and decrease the particle size distribution for improved consistency.
The company has also now begun commercially producing NexGen metal 3D printing powders for clients ahead of schedule.
P. Peter Pascali, CEO and Chair of PyroGenesis, states, “We are happy to announce this significant milestone, almost two months ahead of the schedule announced on April 19th. We believe that the NexGen powder production line will enable PyroGenesis to uniquely process materials which, until today, did not seem economically feasible.”
The NexGen plasma atomization system
The new NexGen technology is intended as an upgrade to Pyrogenesis’ original Plasma Atomization Process (PAP), which the company invented back in 1995. Designed specifically to facilitate high production rates at low costs, NexGen is reportedly capable of producing metal 3D printing powders at a rate of over 25kg/h. Pyrogenesis claims the production line already has several ‘major top-tier’ aerospace clients sitting on the waiting list.
Beyond just creating fine metal powders, the technology is also capable of disposing of industrial waste. Since the initial development phase, Pyrogenesis has fitted the NexGen plasma atomization system with several major improvements, maximizing the throughput while drastically increasing powder size consistency. The company even claims NexGen has surpassed all known published plasma-atomized production rates for titanium.
Pascali adds, “It is very exciting to know that we are now going to be delivering powders to very discerning and distinguished clients. However, I want to caution readers not to be expecting hundreds of tons of powder orders next week. The strategy we have perfected has worked well for us up to now, and we see no reason to change it.”
Next steps for Pyrogenesis
The turn of 2021 saw Pyrogenesis announce the start of a phase of heightened growth, and the company began trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange shortly after. In addition to launching NexGen, the firm has also ramped up production with its patented Plasma Atomization Process, predicted a significant increase of 367% in its annual revenue within its preliminary Q4 2020 financial results.
Now in good standing, Pyrogenesis plans to complete its final set of qualification processes and secure large long-term contracts for NexGen, providing recurring revenue for the coming years.
Massimo Dattilo, Vice President of PyroGenesis Additive, concludes, “This will obviously take time, but we are there now. With the advantages of the NexGen powder production line, we believe it is only a matter of time, given the major top tier aerospace companies and OEMs that are already awaiting powders from this new state-of-the-art production line.”
Much like any niche in the industry, the metal powder production sector features several major players in competition. Earlier this month, Canadian mining and metals firm Rio Tinto developed a new steel 3D printing powder using water atomization technology. Developed and tested at the firm’s Rio Tinto Fer et Titane (RTFT) metallurgical complex in Quebec, the new steel powder has shown that water atomization is a more affordable route to powder production, trumping high-cost gas and plasma atomizers.
Elsewhere, Kanthal, the heating technology brand of global engineering group Sandvik, recently invested in ultra-modern atomizing equipment to further the development of its own powder metallurgy operations. Together with Swedish metals research institute Swerim, Kanthal will use its €2M equipment to research metal powders for 3D printing and hot isostatic pressing applications.
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Featured image shows a plasma atomizer developed by Pyrogenesis. Photo via PyroGenesis.