Safran invests in Prodways to advance 3D printing for aircraft and defense

As reported earlier in March, Prodways’ parent company Groupe Gorgé (EPA:GOE) intends to list their 3D printing division, the Prodways Group via an initial public offering (IPO).

Now Safran Corporate Ventures has announced they are taking a stake in Prodways. In a statement Safran explains that together with Fimalac and BNPP they have,

Subscribed convertible bonds prior to the stock market listing of Prodways Group on Euronext Paris. These three investors, as well as Bpifrance and Financière Arbevel, have also pledged to subscribe to Prodways’ capital increase.

Hélène de Cointet, co-head of Safran Corporate Ventures, will join the Prodways Group Board of Directors.

Prodways ProMaker L5000. Photo by Michael Petch.
Prodways ProMaker L5000. Photo by Michael Petch.

Further validation for additive manufacturing technology

Safran through their joint venture with GE, CFM International, has already helped advance additive manufacturing. However, while CFM International are the suppliers of the 3D printed fuel nozzles for the LEAP engine series, GE has continued to expand its position in the 3D printing industry. Most notably through vertical integration in the supply chain and evident in the U.S. company’s acquisition of OEM’s Concept Laser and Arcam.

In the case of Arcam, GE also deepened value chain integration by acquiring Arcam subsidiary, AP&C – a major supplier of spherical metal powder for additive manufacturing.

Hypersonic flight applications

The advanced manufacturing capabilities of Prodways are likely to find application in numerous Safran projects. For example, Safran has close links with companies developing hypersonic flight projects including the UK based Reaction Engines Ltd., who are working on the the SABRE engine and SKYLON plane that features a 3D printed injector.

Metal additive manufacturing is not the only application, as Safran Executive Vice President, R&T and Innovation, explains, “Safran is already at the cutting edge of this field, and uses 3D printing technology to make parts and subassemblies for its engines, as well as aircraft and defense equipment.”

Prodways subsidiary of Groupe Gorgé Image via: Prodways on Twitter
Prodways subsidiary of Groupe Gorgé Image via: Prodways on Twitter

3D printing ceramics

The partnership between Prodways and Safran will, develop, “printable materials and assembly processes.” The materials include, “high-temperature polymer powders for composites” and, “materials with inorganic compounds, such as ceramics.”

As researchers at HRL Laboratories have demonstrated, 3D printed ceramics using silicon carbide powder can be manufactured with fine details that can withstand temperatures over 2,500°F (1,400° C) are possible.

3D printed ceramics tested under a torch
HRL Laboratories demonstrate the capabilities of the 3D Printed part. Photo via HRL.

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Featured image shows a Safran jet engine.