Dear Friends in the wider Alloyed community
A year on from the merger which saw OxMet Technologies and Betatype join forces to become Alloyed, our Company has grown so fast and changed so much that we thought a regular newsletter might be the best way to keep our wider circle of customers, partners, and friendly engineers abreast with what’s going on.
This first issue will be the first of what we hope will become a series of regular updates.
Beyond our corporate headquarters and alloy development centre in Oxford, we now stretch across two further sites in the UK, and two overseas – Japan, from March 2020, and Los Angeles, from April 2021. At last count, our team numbered around 60, and included 16 different nationalities.
On the alloy design side of our business, we’ve extended our practice and the capacity of the ABD® platform which we use to develop alloys beyond its origins in nickel and titanium to steel, aluminium, copper (which we develop alongside our investor, JX Metals), refractory metals (which we develop alongside JX’s subsidiary, Taniobis) and platinum group metals (we last year announced a partnership with Anglo American, the world’s leading miner of platinum). We both offer alloy design services on a contract basis, and develop our own alloys for sale and licence – some of which are covered later in this newsletter.
On the additive side, we continue to develop our world-leading Engine® and Architect® platforms for the better design and processing of fine-featured devices, and are using them to develop products for our Industrial, Medical, and Electronics segments.
Our ultimate aim, of course, is to combine the benefits of our ABD® alloy design platform with our additive platforms to provide components which have been optimised at every length-scale, from the nanoscale at which we design materials to the macroscale at which we topologically optimise components. We have several such endeavours underway at the moment; most notably, we’ve won an award alongside Boeing from the US government research agency, ARPA-E, to develop and additively manufacture ultra-high-temperature turbine blade components based upon high-entropy-alloys.
I hope you enjoy this newsletter; please do send any questions or thoughts on content you’d like to see in future editions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again for your interest in Alloyed!
Michael Holmes, CEO, Alloyed
Alloyed (formerly OxMet Technologies) brings together the advanced technology brands Alloys-By-Design (ABD), Betatype, and Alloyed Digital Manufacture (ADM) and provides a compelling offering for optimising advanced digital metal manufacturing applications.
Today the company is delighted to announce the acquisition of an Electro-Thermal Mechanical Testing (ETMT) machine, and so becomes one of the only private companies globally to have this technology in-house for the benefit of its customers.
The £300K investment in the ETMT machine is strategically very important for Alloyed, and the technology resides in its 1000 m2 laboratory in Oxford, U.K. where metal research, testing and characterisation takes place.
Gael Guetard, Alloyed’s Rapid Alloy Research Centre Director says, “While the ETMT machine adds hugely to our in-house technology portfolio used on behalf of an array of customers working on exacting AM and non-AM metal product applications, it is the combination of the technology with the vast experience of the Alloyed team that is the real strength. Alloyed’s unrivalled expertise lies in using advanced metallurgy, the latest simulation techniques, and a profound understanding of the factors that drive alloy performance. The company focuses on multi-scale materials and multi-physics modelling, prediction and analysis of fatigue and failure (an area enhanced by the ETMT machine), and the optimisation of complex manufacturing processes, including AM. While many customers have come to us since we installed the ETMT machine to take advantage of its superior attributes, it is often a gateway for them to then take advantage of the array of services that Alloyed can offer for advanced metal manufacturing projects.”
Installed just over one month ago, the ETMT machine makes Alloyed a one-stop shop for a number of metal tests that would have previously only been possible through the agency of a number of different testing companies using a variety of technologies. The ETMT machine can perform tensile and compression tests, creep tests (also called stress-rupture tests), and fatigue tests. Tests can be undertaken in air, vacuum, or foreign gases such as Argon.
The temperature of the sample being tested is controlled by the Joule effect, meaning that temperatures in excess of 1000°C can be attained. The ETMT machine can also quickly heat and cool samples, affording the ability to cycle the temperature or perform in-situ heat treatments.
Guetard continues, “At Alloyed, we have equipped the ETMT with a state-of-the-art digital image correlation (DIC) system, which allows us to optically measure strain on the sample during testing. The machine is well suited for miniature test specimens, which allows us to obtain site-specific mechanical properties from large parts such as forgings. We have also found it very valuable in measuring the properties of fine additively manufactured structures like lattices or thin walls. The machine is extremely versatile and allows for an array of tests to be undertaken under one roof, so any interested parties can approach us to discuss the possibilities and also to assess what else we can help with through Alloyed’s unique stack of technologies for the manufacture of advanced metal components both by additive or traditional means.”
The investment in the ETMT system is a stand out example of Alloyed’s commitment to excellence and providing a broad range of complementary services for its pan-industrial global customers.
Alloyed is delighted to announce that the CHAMPP consortium, which it is a part of, has been awarded a significant grant to research, develop and test an innovative new hybrid production process that will address a number of the key limitations of additive manufacturing (AM) for the automotive sector, specifically electric vehicles (EVs).
The Casting-Hybrid-Additive-Manufacturing-Parts-Production (CHAMPP) programme brings together a critical mass of technical and market expertise with three key partners, namely Alloyed, Brunel University London’s BCAST, Gestamp and its affiliate Autotech.
With the EV market projected to reach circa 27 million units per year by 2030*, the automotive industry is constantly working on solutions to meet the challenges associated with heavy batteries and developing lighter weight components to achieve efficiency targets. AM has long offered automotive designers and manufacturers the potential to overcome these challenges, but is currently still limited by the speed of the processes, maximum part size and a relatively high cost-per-part, which is, generally, twice the cost of casting production methods.
Thus, the CHAMPP programme has been initiated to investigate a hybrid approach to the production of parts by considering the benefits of both casting and AM. The expertise of Alloyed in developing novel and innovative new alloys using its Alloy by Design (ABD®) platform for both casting and AM as well as the capabilities of its Engine® platform for increasing AM performance, together with the expertise of BCAST and Gestamp in their respective fields of casting research and world-class global manufacturing of automotive parts.
The vision is to combine the low cost-per-part capabilities of casting with the design and production flexibility of AM. In this way automotive manufacturers will be able to cast their standard components across multiple models, and subsequently use metal AM to customise those standard parts for specific variants at the volumes required.
To date, research in this area has mostly focussed on steel materials. However, while steel remains a relatively low-cost material, the complex supply chains and/or expensive new machines have been a barrier to large-scale hybridisation reaching the mainstream. Moreover, research on hybridisation using Aluminium (or alloys thereof) has been limited by traditional cast/wrought alloys which, when used with AM processes, result in poor mechanical performance. Similarly, current Aluminium alloy AM powders are generally not suited for automotive production applications as they are expensive and result in poorer mechanical properties with many defects.
The CHAMPP project aims to build on the consortium’s prior alloy and hybridisation research to develop and test new Aluminium alloy(s) better suited to future automotive needs. The focus will be on developing alloys that can first be cast and then subsequently built on to produce custom/complex features using AM techniques with a compatible alloy that maintains mechanical properties and performance.
Shouxun Ji, Professor at BCAST, added: “It is exciting to be working in such a high-class consortium of companies and institutions at the cutting edge of the next-generation of casting processes in combination with additive manufacturing as part of a truly advanced hybrid technique for producing metal components. The future is exciting, and BACST is delighted to be central to the CHAMPP initiative.”
Phil Potter, Innovation Project Manager at Gestamp commented; “We are proud to be working on the CHAMPP project alongside some prominent players in the metal production and AM space. Obviously for us the tie in with the potential for AM to be used alongside other solutions and innovations in the area of EVs is of pivotal concern, and we see the CHAMPP programme as vital to the furtherance of safer, lighter, more energy efficient, and more environmentally-friendly vehicles in the future.”
Sajjad Amirkhanlou, Programme Director at Alloyed, commenting on the grant award, said: “We are delighted to be a part of the CHAMPP programme and bring our considerable experience and expertise to the project. It is vital for AM — if it is to fulfil its true potential — that the speed, size, and cost limitations are addressed fully. Through the CHAMPP programme we will tackle these issues head-on by taking a multi-disciplinary approach and combining AM with an efficient and optimised casting process.”
Alloyed recently completed a strategic acquisition of an Arc Melter and has installed it alongside its already impressive array of technologies housed in its Oxford, U.K.-based Rapid Alloy Research Centre.
The installation of the Arc Melter follows the investment in an Electro-Thermal Mechanical Testing (ETMT) machine, and in a similar fashion to the ETMT machine adds significantly to Alloyed’s in-house technology capability used on behalf of a broad range of customers working on an array of demanding AM and non-AM metal product applications.
Gael Guetard, Alloyed’s Rapid Alloy Research Centre Director says, “Alloyed is expert in the development, licensing, and manufacture of proprietary alloys, alloy powders, and alloy components for a growing number of industry sectors. The acquisition of the Arc200 from Arcast means that Alloyed is one of the only private commercial companies to have this technology in-house. It has been purchased to complement our two induction melters installed in 2020, these two melters having been key assets for our Cu, Ni, Pt, Fe, and Al alloy development projects. The induction melters use a ceramic crucible which reacts with some alloys and are limited to 2000°C, whereas the Arc200 has a copper crucible that accommodates higher melting point alloys and means we can now produce alloys with high levels of Ti, Zr, Nb, Ta, Mo, W, etc… This significantly widens the markets and customers we can reach, particularly in the medical, space, and nuclear sectors.”
The Arc200 uses a tungsten electrode to generate an arc in an argon atmosphere and melts the feedstock materials in a water-cooled copper crucible. The specific machine purchased by Alloyed also has the following options: high vacuum (10-5 mbar) and getter to allow a clean melt; electromagnetic stirring/pulsing and button flipping to ensure the chemical homogeneity of the melt; high power (up to 800 A) to melt virtually any metal; and tilt-casting into a mould to control the solidification structure and shape of the ingot.
Gael continues, “Before we purchased the Arc200, we would outsource the melting of high temperature and reactive alloys, and this had the knock-on effect of increasing cost and lead times of our projects. In addition, it meant that we had little control over quality. Bringing this capability in-house means that we can significantly increase the pace of our alloy development projects and gain more control over the quality of the alloys which is fundamental to customer satisfaction. The arc melter fits within our ‘Rapid Alloy Research Centre’ where the ingots cast in the Arc200 can be processed, characterised and tested. We are currently in the commissioning phase, but we already have several exciting new alloys lined-up: Ti-based alloys for medical applications, bulk metallic glasses for jewellery, high-entropy alloys for gas turbines, refractory-based alloys for space, and more. We are excited to engage with new customers moving forward who can now benefit from our expertise and agility in customised alloy development.”
The investment in the Arc 200 is another example of Alloyed’s commitment to excellence and providing a broad range of complementary services for its pan-industrial global customers.
As Alloyed continues to extend its influence throughout industry, we have a discussion with Infrastructure Director, Gael Guetard who takes a look at the investment that is taking place, and also how this serves the core customer base for the company.
The acquisition and merger of Betatype with OxMet Technologies which led to the formation of Alloyed at the end of 2019 brought together the advanced technology brands Alloys-By-Design (ABD), Betatype, and Alloyed Digital Manufacture (ADM), providing a compelling offering for optimising advanced digital metal manufacturing applications.
Q. Hello Gael. Can you tell us how long have you been with OxMet / Alloyed, and what are the key changes that you have seen in this time?
A. I joined OxMet in May 2018. Since then, a lot has changed. From a team of just a few people in a small office, Alloyed is now a major player in the world of advanced alloys and additive manufacturing (AM). In my opinion, the most striking change has been in the diversification of our customer portfolio. In 2018, OxMet was only focused on 2 or 3 industrial sectors. Now, in 2021, as Alloyed, we cover pretty much all sectors where advanced metal components play a major role.
Q. As Infrastructure Director, can you give some insight into the areas where Alloyed is expanding technologically, and the staffing initiatives behind this?
A. The main focus for 2021 is the expansion of our Rapid Alloy Research Centre in Oxford and our Digital Manufacturing Centre in Stone. For Oxford, we are increasing our experimental capabilities for small-scale alloy manufacturing for both bulk materials and coatings. This will allow us to accelerate our development of new materials. We are also continuing to expand our characterisation and testing suite with specialist instruments to give our engineers the ability to rapidly generate the data they need.
For Stone, the focus is to complement our existing fleet of AM machines with the tools for the post-processing of parts. This is key to delivering finished parts to our customers within short lead-times and with the high quality they expect, and includes CNC and EDM machines, surface finishing equipment, as well as an array of dimensional control tools.
Q. What do you see as the key advantages of partnering with Alloyed?
A. If customers are looking to improve the performance of a metal component, they can go down many different paths. They can modify the alloy, adjust the heat-treatment cycle, optimise the design, or even improve the manufacturability. But it can be difficult to know which one of these paths will yield the most gains. The strength of Alloyed is the ability to cover all bases and come up with a strategy to get optimal improvements in a short amount of time.
Q. Which companies do you think would benefit most by engaging with Alloyed?
A. Looking at the diversity of our current customer portfolio, it is pretty difficult to come up with an ideal profile. Companies come to us from all sectors and with very different needs. Far from trying to come up with an exhaustive list, I see a few profiles that might benefit greatly by working with us such as: companies experiencing a failure or limited life of a metal component; companies wanting to find the optimal compositional space to push the performance of their alloys further; companies wanting to solve issues implementing metal AM in their manufacturing process; and companies looking to re-design an existing component to take full advantage of AM.
Q. What would you like any potential customer to know about Alloyed?A. Our capabilities — both experimental and computer-based — are constantly expanding so make sure you keep up-to-date through this newsletter. But if there is something we don’t have in-house, there is a good chance we already have a private or academic partner that can help.
The Laser Metal Deposition process is an established method for repair of superalloy components. ABD®‑900AM does not form detrimental phases during AM – using it in repair avoids the need for heat treatment.
ABD®-900AM, OxMet’s nickel alloy designed for high-temperature strength and crack-free additive manufacture, has been shortlisted for the best Non-Polymer materials award.
Rebecca Gingell joins host Michael Frazis to discuss OxMet’s Alloys by Design platform, its academic modelling heritage, and why aerospace alloys aren’t always suitable for orthopaedic implants.