Optomec acquires 3D metal printer Huffman for energy and aviation manufacturing

Wednesday December 19, 2018
Written by Manufacturing AUTOMATION
December 20, 2018 – Optomec, a production-grade additive manufacturing solutions provider, has acquired Huffman, a 3D metal printing systems developer for additive repair of gas turbine components in the energy and aviation markets.

Huffman’s equipment and software are in production at virtually all major manufacturers of aircraft engines and industrial gas turbines, who use its metal deposition capabilities to restore worn or damaged components at substantially lower cost than newly-made spare parts.

At a strategic level, Optomec says the acquisition combines Optomec’s broad horizontal market reach with Huffman’s deep penetration in the gas turbine market. The synergies extend to complementary product portfolios and technical expertise, which together sets the stage for accelerated growth in both businesses.

"The opportunity for additive manufacturing in repair applications is often overlooked, but when you consider that corrosion and wear cost the US economy $300 billion per year, and that the global commercial aviation industry spends almost $100 billion annually on repair, you can get a better sense of the magnitude of these markets," says David Ramahi, president and CEO of Optomec. "With the Huffman acquisition, we aim to expand the use of DED/LENS repair for the existing installed base of more than 100,000 gas turbines and engines, while also leveraging that expertise to drive greater adoption of cost-effective repairs for mainstream industrial applications."

Both Optomec and Huffman deliver a form of metal 3D printing that is known as directed energy deposition (DED; tradename LENS). LENS has distinct advantages over the more widely known form of metal printing referred to as powder bed fusion (PBF), or selective laser melting (SLM). In particular, LENS is able to print full parts at a fraction of the time and cost of PBF/SLM, yet with better material and mechanical properties. LENS is able to add metal to existing parts for repair and coating applications that extend the useful life of components.

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