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As a high-value, and heavily standardized industry, certification of course is one of the main preoccupations when considering 3D printing in aerospace.

In conversations with steel manufacturer and distributor Carpenter Technology, Rapid Plasma Deposition (RPD) company Norsk Titanium and Boeing Horizon X beneficiary Morf3D, I explore this topic a little deeper to underline a picture of the technology’s progress in this heavyweight industry.

Carpenter - Technology - Corporation - Years - Experience

Founded in 1889, Carpenter Technology Corporation has almost 130 years experience in stainless steel and alloy manufacturing, but it has been in the last 18 months that its additive manufacturing segment has really begun to develop. In February 2018, Carpenter acquired titanium additive manufacturing powder producer Puris, and most recently at Farnborough Airshow the materials company joined GE Additive’s Manufacturing Partner Network.

CalRAM, a specialist powder bed fusion service provider for the aerospace industry, was officially acquired by Carpenter in February 2018 and Ken Davis, Director of Additive Technology at Carpenter, has been with this subsidiary for over 3 years.

Davis - Process - Materials - Certification - Carpenter

Davis describes the process of materials certification with Carpenter customers as “a constant feedback loop,” i.e. application and process inform material development. Carpenter does, of course, provide its customers with standard-cut powder, but the majority of the time these mixtures are tuned, so each client works with its own proprietary powder.

In terms of standardization, this could make things complicated. While a standard material could increase the volume of powder that can be produced (and lower the cost to buy) Davis explains, “it can also limit creativity.”

Stage - Companies - Handcuffs - Innovation

He says, at this stage, companies “shouldn’t have handcuffs on them” when it comes to potential innovation.

Scheduled for launch in the next 12 months, Carpenter has an Emerging Technology Center coming to Athens, Alabama. According to reports, the company expects to invest $52 million in the facility which will initially focus on innovation for additive manufacturing.

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