Aurora set for 3D printing commercialisation
In a sign that the 3D printing market is coming of age, leading 3D technologist, Aurora Labs, has teamed up with giant engineering and mining services group, Worley Parsons, to form a 3D printing and consulting joint venture.
Finding the right partner is often the key to success for junior tech companies and Aurora Labs has locked down a partnership with about the best possible counterparty in the market place that has the capacity to quickly take its 3D printing technology to market.
The two companies have formed an equal joint venture to be known as “AdditiveNow,”in a nod to the fact that 3D printing technically “adds” metal to build up a product, whereas spare parts are usually built by taking metal away with lathes and milling machines.
The new JV will provide a complete suite of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing services to oil and gas, mining and major infrastructure clients.
It will also provide consulting services to major industrial clients who are looking to make the leap from traditional replacement part purchasing to “printing their own items courtesy of 3D printing technology.
The JV has the potential to be a company maker for Aurora Labs by throwing open the doors for its ground breaking 3D printing products to WorleyParsons’ extensive network of existing clients and industry contacts.
Amongst the services that AdditiveNow will provide are assisting clients with their 3D manufacturing plans, part designs, bespoke 3D printing and parts certification.
More specifically, the JV will examine potential clients’ most commonly used parts and create a custom computer file that will allow the client to print the part using Aurora’s 3D printers at a lower cost and with less downtime.
Parts certification will also provide clients with the certainty that the 3D printed components are fit-for-purpose.
The agreement with WorleyParsons comes just two months after Aurora signed a partnership agreement with Fortescue Metal Group to explore the possibility of using its 3D printing technology to reduce production and operational costs in the mining and resources sector.
This will be achieved by printing replacement mechanical parts on-site using its proprietary 3D printers.
Aurora Managing Director David Budge said: “As our technology comes to market, Aurora is optimistic that interest in 3D printing technology across these industries increase, and Aurora will follow any growth opportunities.”
“We have already identified and initiated discussions with specific customers for efficiency opportunities to reduce their capital committed to spare parts and inventory, potentially replacing aspects of traditional supply chain with 3D metal printing technology. This has the potential to result in reducing inventory holding costs, freight and manufacturing lead times.”
The company recently unveiled its multi-level Rapid Manufacturing Technology, which allows multiple layers of metal 3D parts to be printed in a single pass.
Whilst its current machines can print about 30 layers at a time, Aurora is aiming to churn out its full-sized machines that are capable of printing up to 100 layers at a time within the next 6 to 12 months.
This translates into the ability to produce a metre tall part in just 100 passes, which is a step change in the amount of time required to 3D print objects.
The same machine will also be capable of printing up to a tonne of metal product a day.
Management said previously that having the ability to print between 100 and 300 kilograms a day would rapidly reduce the amortisation cost of the machine, to the point where the primary cost of 3D printing will become the cost of the powder feedstock.
Aurora is also building processes to allow the download of certified part designs with DNV-GL, the world’s largest classification company.
This work dovetails neatly into its development of an online store for purchasing vetted digital designs to download directly to the printer for manufacturing.
The other major component of Aurora’s process is its proprietary powder production technology, which will not only allow the company to control the quality and cost of consumables, but also unlock the international powdered metals market that is potentially worth billions of dollars.
The company’s prototype powder production unit has already produced its first laboratory test scale powder that demonstrates very tight size distribution according to management.
Aurora is also aiming to build a full sized production unit capable of producing 5 tonnes of powder per day, a potential game changer for large industrial consumers and even manufacturers of spare parts.
Teaming up with WorleyParsons could well be the key for Aurora to get its innovative 3D printing technology in front of clients who will be able to use it to produce parts quickly and cost efficiently.
With its new machines capable of multi-level printing due to be available soon, the timing is spot on for Aurora as it moves into 2019.
Aurora Labs (A3D)
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