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Production-grade metal 3D printing leader Optomec has announced its acquisition of Huffman, a South Carolina-based company that has years of experience in supplying metal 3D printing systems for the additive repair of gas turbine components in the energy and aviation markets. This acquisition will increase its reach within Huffman’s home in the gas turbine market, which is good news for Optomec, as the global commercial aviation and power industry spend quite a lot of money each year on repairs.
Huffman and Optomec both offer a metal 3D printing process known as Directed Energy Deposition(DED), or LENS, which has several advantages over more well-known methods like selective laser melting or powder bed fusion. For example, LENS can 3D print parts in far less time, and for far less money, than SLM (LPBF, DMLS) methods can, and the process is also unique in its ability to add metal to existing parts for applications in coating and repair that can actually increase a component’s useful shelf life.
LENS systems use a high power laser (400W to 3kW) to fuse powdered metals into fully dense three-dimensional structures. LENS 3D printers use the geometric information contained in a solid CAD model to automatically drive the process as it builds up a component layer by layer. Additional software and closed-loop process controls ensure the finished part’s geometric and mechanical integrity.
Huffman’s software and metal additive repair equipment are used by nearly all of the world’s major aircraft engine and industrial gas turbine manufacturers. The company’s metal deposition capabilities are used to help restore damaged or worn components, which costs a lot less money than just going out and purchasing new spare parts.
Optomec’s acquisition of Huffman will, on a strategic level, help combine its horizontal market reach with Huffman’s reach in the gas turbine market over many different industries and hundreds of customs. Both businesses should see accelerated growth as the two combine their technical expertise and complementary product portfolios.