By Nick Gilbert
Hoganas, a global manufacturer of iron and metal powders, has acquired a 100% stake in additive manufacturing technology developer, fcubic, by exercising an option.
The acquisition is expected to be completed by November 1, 2012. Subsequent to the acquisition, the business division will be known as Digital Metal. The acquisition marks Hoganas’ first step towards gaining a stronghold in the future additive manufacturing market. The current potential of the additive manufacturing market is pegged at US $1 billion. The fields in the scope of the market are medical, consumer design, aerospace, dental and industrial. It is not possible to accurately quantify the potential of this industry as it is still in its nascent stage.
Hoganas will enable new avenues by integrating additive manufacturing with metal powders. The company will apply its technology expertise in powder metallurgy to extend the application of additive manufacturing to manufacture of components.
Additive manufacturing, also called 3D printing or digital manufacturing enables the layered construction of components directly from three-dimensional data in CAD. The elimination of prototyping, expensive and complex tools facilitates minimum material wastage, reduced development time and high design accuracy. The technology can be employed to convert numerous complex components with weight less than 1 kg into metal powder. The benefits of additive manufacturing are unparalleled tolerance and precision control, surface quality and detailed resolution.
Though there are numerous additive manufacturing technologies for metal components available like Electron Beam Melting, Selective Laser Sintering and Direct Metal Laser Sintering, the technology provided by Digital Metal is better in terms of quicker time to market and superior characteristics.