Additive Manufacturing:

we turn your 3D models into metal…

Additive Manufacturing is a process that builds parts layer-by-layer from sliced CAD models to form solid objects. ’3D Printing’ has, for some time, been building design verification prototypes, but recent advancements in the technology have enhanced the potential of this process. Fibre lasers are now available with enough power to melt high performance metal alloys that you can make jet engine parts from. The vision of this process is bold and the advantages claimed are substantial, but in many cases the technology is not developed to it’s potential. Often, the supply chain is not in place, the requirements of clients are not fully understood and the advantages are more aspirational than proven. However, at Materials Solutions we are developing the applications know-how and a supply chain for the world’s most advanced engineering companies – delivering processes and parts from 3D CAD models using software, lasers and metal powders. We turn raw, powdered materials into precision solutions.

How we do this?

First up; we learnt to use the technology. Then we learnt how it can be used to its full potential, and how to apply it to make larger parts than anyone had ever made before in materials customers needed.

We installed the most advanced tools and equipment, hired a world-class team of metallurgists and engineers, and put them in a good place to think and work.

Then, leading-edge manufacturers from around the world came to us with puzzles to solve:

  • How could we make an assembly of parts as a single piece?
  • Could we save weight and still keep performance?
  • What were the materials properties like?
  • How repeatable is the process?
  • How much would it cost… now and in the future, and where can they buy volume parts?
  • Could we make parts in the most advanced nickel superalloys- used for the highest temperature applications?

Solving these puzzles makes us experts in our field.

They stretch us to find ways of delivering performance gains for next-generation products.

We work with the most exciting manufacturers to build real ‘stuff’

We operate a flat organisation so all of our engineers develop a deep understanding of the technology by operating it on a daily basis. They discuss the requirements directly with our customers’ engineers and provide design-for-manufacture advice based on their practical experience learnt from years of experience.They read the engineering drawings and operate CAD workstations. They program the Selective Laser Melting machines and use the materials analysis and inspection equipment- which includes electron and optical microscopes, GOM structured light optical measurement and programmable CMM. They select the heat treatments and Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) processes, and manage the final machining. And they complete the documentation and submit it for customer approval.

We are AS9100 Rev C (aerospace) approved and have supplier approvals from; Rolls-Royce Plc., Rolls-Royce- Nuclear Sector, Rolls-Royce- Canada and Rolls-Royce-Deutschland as well as ITP, Sumitomo Precision Products and a famous autosports engine maker we cannot name; which is a shame as you would be impressed. We use EOS ‘DMLS’ machines- possibly the most available commercially anywhere. We have our own vacuum furnace and Agie Charmilles Cut 30 wire Electro Discharge Machine (EDM). We have a machine shop and bench finishing and are Rolls-Royce approved for visual inspection, abrasive blasting and EDM as well as laser/powder processing. We have laboratories for materials structural analysis, powder morphology and chemical analysis with Malvern Mastersizer 3000, LECO CS230 and ONH836 and Perkin Elmer Optima 8000 ICP-OES. And we’re working hard on getting this lab approved to ISO/IEC 17025. When it is, we’ll be offering this service too.

Maybe we can help you too?

We specialised in high temperature alloys because it needed doing. Improved combustion processes help to reduce emissions and improve fuel consumption. This requires better fuel/air mixing, better use of cooling and higher temperatures. So novel designs in nickel superalloys are our core skill. We have developed our own processes- or validated commercial processes- to make parts in many alloys including; Hastalloy X, Inco 625, 718 and 718Plus, C262, MAR M-002, C1023 and CM247LC (cobalt chrome too if you wish).

And we also develop processes for advanced stainless steels and build parts in them too, such as; 17-4 and 15-5, 316, duplex stainless steels and a maraging steel. And recently we’ve started delivering titanium 6/4 parts as well.

Helping you succeed

Okay – so what don’t we do?

We are not expert in medical devices and we don’t ‘do’ jewellery or lifestyle products- there are others out there that are expert in these fields.

And we’re not good where ‘shipped is better than perfect’ – our processes and quality control don’t allow this. But we do understand that quicker is better- and we’re working on improving lead time.

We’ll also tell you if Additive Manufacturing is not (yet?) the best way forward for the application. We help our customers make sense of Additive Manufacturing and apply it well to their designs by providing ‘design for manufacture’ advice. It’s our ‘sales process’- we do it at no charge; whether you buy something from us at the end of that process- or not.

We help you apply Additive Manufacturing, but we don’t provide design services. We are experts at what we do- not what you do. To us your design is a geometry that needs making, well, in the right materials.

We’re good at that.