May 9, 2017 | By Tess

Optomec, an Albuquerque-based metal additive manufacturing systems manufacturer, has announced a strategic alliance with the Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation (TNSC), a Japan-based global supplier of industrial, specialty, and electronic gases. As part of the agreement, TNSC has also made an unspecified capital investment in the 3D printing company.

The partnership will see TNSC and its largest subsidiary, Matheson, resell Optomec’s LENS 3D printers as part of a “total AM solution offering” that will also include gases, powder feed stock, and metal heat treatment processes. From Optomec’s side, the strategic collaboration will enable it to grow its LENS product sales by taking advantage of TNSC’s established sales network in Japan, the U.S., and Asia.

Optomec’s LENS (Laser Engineered Net Shaping) 3D printers have been a staple in the metal additive manufacturing industry for nearly two decades. The company’s offering now includes three LENS printer series: the LENS Classic System Series, the LENS Print Engine, and the LENS Machine Tool Series.

LENS 3D printing technology, which enables the production, repair, and reworking of metal components in a variety of metals, utilizes a high-power laser (500W to 4kW) to build up metal shapes layer by layer. Compatible with a range of different metal powders, including titanium, stainless steel, and nickel-based superalloys, LENS 3D printers can make parts with high mechanical properties that rival those of wrought metal parts.

TNSC, for its part, is a leading supplier of both industrial gases and metal welding solutions. Its expertise in welding processes, metal heat treatment, and controlled gas atmospheres will reportedly allow the company to lower costs, increase accuracy, and streamline production for additive manufacturing technologies.

As part of the agreement with Optomec, TNSC has put together technical teams dedicated to metal 3D printing at its gas application research and development lab in Yamanashi, Japan. Soon, it will bring in an Optomec LENS 3D printer that will be used for various applications, including applied technical support, demonstration services, and for developing new and more efficient additive manufacturing solutions.

According to a press release, “This will be the first integrated Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology Lab in Asia and will be supported by technology alliances with various industry partners.”

Industrial gases are a crucial part of metal 3D printing processes, as gases such as argon are utilized to keep oxygen and moisture levels in print chambers controlled. The use of special industrial gases allows for parts to be printed without damage from oxidization.

Last week, Optomec also announced that it had significantly improved its process for 3D printing and finishing copper and copper/nickel inks using its Aerosol Jet additive manufacturing systems.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printer Company

 

 

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