Victory chooses IperionX: aims to scale the production of titanium metal powders from scrap

Sustainable, low-cost titanium developer IperionX has won Phase 1 of the NSIN-sponsored AFRL Reprocessing of Metallic Scrap and Waste Powders Grand Challenge (AFRL Grand Challenge #4).

The challenge included the opportunity of a $500,000 contract, that would be granted in four development cycles during the next nine months, to build equipment and processes for converting scrap titanium into powders suited for additive manufacturing. The IperionX team suggested a fresh approach to waste recycling, and deoxygenating titanium powder to make it usable.

“The AFRL team is excited to work with IperionX on the next phase of the titanium recyclability Grand Challenge. IperionX seemed to really understand the purpose of the Grand Challenge and pitched a unique strategy to deoxygenate and rejuvenate used titanium powders and scrap materials back into a powder suitable for additive manufacturing of aerospace-quality parts. We can’t wait to see the results of all the hard work yet to come,” said Dr. Calvin Mikler, Materials Engineer at AFRL.

Engineers at one of IperionX's pilot facilities. Photo via IperionX.
Engineers at one of IperionX’s pilot facilities. Photo via IperionX.

IperionX’s industrial portfolio

Last year, IperionX (IPX) had been admitted to the Nasdaq stock exchange. On June 21, 2022, IperionX started trading on Nasdaq under the ticker ‘IPX,’ while simultaneously remaining listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). Taso Arima, CEO of the company, asserts that being listed in the US will offer it “increased liquidity” and introduce it to new retail and institutional investors in the long run.

“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,” added Arima.

Furthermore, Panerai, a luxury watchmaker, had signed a business deal with IperionX. The companies collaborated to identify watch designs that could be manufactured utilizing IperionX’s reprocessed metal powders, with the initial products manufactured together, special edition watch cases, set to hit the market in 2023. Arima explained, “Our partnership represents a major milestone in the luxury goods sector. For IperionX, this demonstrates the potential in other consumer-facing sectors which are demanding fully recycled and sustainable, low carbon materials.”

Watch blanks being cleaned after 3D printing. Photo via IperionX.
Watch blanks being cleaned after 3D printing. Photo via IperionX.

Scaling additive manufacturing through recycling processes

Previously, engineers at Canada’s McGill University and Ryerson University were able to convert environmentally hazardous wind turbine waste into a strong new PLA 3D printing material. The group was able to recycle a now-defunct wind turbine blade into a fine fiber powder using a combination of mechanical grinding and pyrolysis. During overview testing, the leftovers of the blade not only demonstrated greater stiffness and strength than virgin fiberglass, but they also demonstrated the ability to produce robust fiber-reinforced 3D printed parts when combined with PLA.

Elsewhere, ARMOR‘s additive manufacturing subsidiary KIMYA announced plans to broaden its recycled filament range to involve new high-performance materials by 2024. KIMYA is aiming for 70 to 100% recycled materials in future high-performance filaments as a part of the third stage of ARMOR’s FIL’REC project, which is linked to the ORPLAST plastics recycling scheme. Nicolas Morand, KIMYA’s R&D, Innovation, and Industrialization Manager said, “Developing recycled high-performance materials poses a significant technical challenge for our teams, but it will enable us to provide the market with a unique offering, as there are no platters in the additive manufacturing market currently using recycled high-performance materials.”

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Feature image shows AFRL metallic scraps and waste powders grand challenge winner. Image via National Security Innovation Network.