Equispheres accelerates additive manufacturing innovation with $5M from Lockheed Martin
Equispheres created a unique atomization reactor for producing free-flowing, uniform, monograin, agglomerate-free, perfectly spherical aluminum alloy powders with ideal flow, spread, and packing characteristics desired within the aerospace and automotive industries (Image source: Equispheres).

Equispheres accelerates additive manufacturing innovation with $5M from Lockheed Martin

Equispheres will use influx to develop advanced aerospace-grade powders for aerospace.
Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin in Bethesda, Md., is investing $5 million in Ottawa-based materials science company Equispheres to help accelerate the development of high-quality additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, materials and techniques, such as cold spray deposition. Lockheed Martin’s investment enables Equispheres to conduct the research and development needed to build reactors that will produce powders of higher-strength materials, such as steels, cobalt, chrome, and Inconel, a heat- and corrosion-resistant nickel-based alloy containing chromium and iron – materials well suited to aerospace applications.
Additive techniques require powder-based mediums to gradually build up components. On a granular level, these powders consist of spherical particles of a given print medium.

Typical metal powders are produced primarily via two fluid gas atomization processes. The resultant powder particles are often flawed in that they are irregularly shaped, have a wide size distribution, are not fully dense, and contain agglomerate particles. For demanding applications, like additive manufacturing and metal spray, these imperfections can result in a variety of defects in the final printed component.

Equispheres created a unique atomization reactor for producing free-flowing, uniform, monograin, agglomerate-free, perfectly spherical aluminum alloy powders with ideal flow, spread, and packing characteristics desired within the aerospace and automotive industries. These characteristics result in more uniform melt and solidification rates and a thinner oxide layer that inhibits water absorption. Ultimately, additively manufactured components produced with Equisphere powder retain higher performance and maintenance capabilities.

“We are very excited to have developed this relationship with Lockheed Martin and secured this investment as it enables Equispheres to offer a broader range of products to the metal powder market, which is doubling in size every 12- to 18-months,” says Kevin Nicholds, president and CEO of Equispheres.

Lockheed Martin’s investment in Equispheres helps to fulfill the company’s Industrial and Regional Benefits (IRB) and Industrial Technological Benefits (ITB) Policy obligations associated with Canada’s purchase of 17 Lockheed Martin CC-130J Super Hercules turboprop military transport aircraft. Beyond delivering continued in-service support for the CC-130J fleet, Lockheed Martin has invested over more than $35 million in firms and universities across Montreal, Quebec, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Victoria, and Ottawa. The company has contributed to an economic boom in Canada, which is seeing a growth of metal additive manufacturing firms over the past few years.

“This is an excellent example of how the ITB Policy supports the development of new technologies and accelerates the growth of small and medium sized enterprises in Canada. We are using the purchasing power from defense procurement to create jobs and drive economic growth across the country,” affirms the Navdeep Bains, Canada’s minister of innovation, science, and economic development.
 

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