Aug 8, 2018

Boeing HorizonX Invests in High-Speed Metal 3D Printing Startup Digital Alloys

The venture capital arm of Boeing, Boeing HorizonX, is investing in the Massachusetts-based startup Digital Alloys. The company has developed a patented high-speed metal 3D printing process called Joule Printing, which is capable of combining multiple metal materials into a single part.

Boeing HorizonX, the venture capital arm of the aerospace giant Boeing, has announced a new investment in Digital Alloys, a Massachusetts-based startup that is developing a new multi-metal additive manufacturing technology. The new kid on the metal 3D printing block recently raised $12.9m in funding in its Series B financing round that was led by the venture capital firm G20 Ventures, and also involved Lincoln Electric and Khosla Ventures.

Although Boeing didn’t disclose the amount that it invested into the funding round, it will add Digital Alloys to its growing venture capital portfolio. The pioneering aerospace company is looking to get a leg up in the metal additive manufacturing world, and the startup seems to have an innovative technology that will boost the production of  its aerospace and defense parts.

Digital Alloys’ patented 3D printing process is called Joule Printing technology, a process that works by rapidly combining multiple types of metal into a single part. Therefore, this multi-material technique is able to create parts that are embedded with enhanced mechanical, magnetic, electrical or thermal properties, making them better suited for functional prototyping and end-use parts.

The Joule Printing process could provide some compelling benefits for Boeing, including the ability to produce aerospace parts made from titanium and high-temperature alloys in a quick and efficient manner.

“Our investment in Digital Alloys will help Boeing produce metal structural aerospace parts faster and at higher volume than ever before… By investing in companies with emerging additive manufacturing technologies, we aim to strengthen Boeing’s expertise and help accelerate the design and manufacture of 3D printed parts to transform production systems and products,” said Brian Schettler, managing director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures.

How Digital Alloys’ 3D Printing Process Could Help Boeing Strengthen Parts and Save Money

Formed in January 2017, Digital Alloys has remained focused on developing and refining its patented Joule Printing 3D printing process. The company claims that the advantages of this process involves avoiding costly and complicated powder-based additive manufacturing systems. The process also boasts high quality parts that offer higher resolution than other wire-based metal 3D printing techniques.

Digital Alloys also stands to benefit from the Boeing HorizonX investment, allowing the company to prove the value of its unique metal 3D printing process and gain more recognition in the ever-expanding additive manufacturing industry.

“Our novel Joule Printing process is faster, more cost-effective, and more reliable than other approaches… Partnering with Boeing will make us a smarter, stronger company. We are committed to enabling Boeing and other leading manufacturers to create valuable new products quickly and at less cost by incorporating metal 3D printing into their production,” said Duncan McCallum, CEO of Digital Alloys.

The new investment is just the latest example of how additive manufacturing technology is being increasingly adopted into the aerospace industry. While Boeing will certainly leverage this new metal production technology to enhance aerospace parts, this is far from the company’s first rodeo with 3D printing. In fact, the company has already incorporated more than 60,000 3D printed parts into products for the defense, commercial and space sector.

Now, with Joule Printing technology waiting in the wings, Boeing will soon be able to manufacture and test enhanced aerospace parts that contain a mixture of metal alloys. As Digital Alloys strives to reach the level of recognition that leading metal 3D printing companies like Desktop Metal and Markforged have achieved, gaining the backing of one of the world’s leading defense and aerospace companies is certainly a great launching point.

License: The text of "Boeing HorizonX Invests in High-Speed Metal 3D Printing Startup Digital Alloys" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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