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Fortius Metals specializes in the development of high-performance alloys capable of meeting the demands of aerospace and robotic welding customers. Having gained $2 million in funding, the firm says it now plans to “scale manufacturing capacity, grow the company and accelerate its go-to-market strategy.”
Developing aerospace-grade metals
Fortius Metals was spun-out by Colorado-based material developer Elementum 3D with the aim of developing next-generation wire alloys for large-format metal 3D printing and robotic welding firms. Utilizing a technology already patented by its parent firm for powder bed fusion users, Fortius Metals is capable of creating welding wires that specifically meet clients’ requirements across various alloys.
According to the company, its process allows for the creation of materials with an ideal metallurgy for “welding the unweldable,” including alloys like 1xxx, 2xxx, 6xxx, and 7xxx series aluminum, by solving hot tearing and hot cracking issues. Fortius Metals also boasts that its metal customization approach enables the production of lighter, stronger parts, with “properties that help optimize users’ designs.”
While adopters are free to acquire the materials and deploy them in-house, the firm does market a prototyping offering as well. As part of this service, customers are able to order a wire to specification, before working with Fortius Metals on the development of challenging builds, who can then prototype them if desired.
Fortius Metals continues to target ‘high-impact’ industries with its materials, such as the aerospace, defense, and Electric Vehicle (EV) sectors. The former has already proven to be a fertile area for the firm’s technology, with the likes of NASA, the US Air Force, the US Navy, the US Army, and several Tier 1 aerospace OEMs having deployed Essentium 3D-developed materials to advance their designs.
AM Ventures’ $2M Fortius investment
Back in 2013, AM Ventures was set up by Hans Langer, the founder of leading 3D printer manufacturer EOS, to identify promising start-ups with mass-market potential. Since then, the team behind the firm have utilized their in-depth 3D printing expertise and connections to help more than twenty start-ups establish themselves within the industry.
AM Ventures has previously invested in businesses like MetShape, Conflux Technology, Lightforce Orthodontics, and Headmade Materials, which have since gone from strength to strength. Earlier this year, the company also closed a €100 million 3D printing VC fund, with the aim of backing further start-ups developing industrial-grade 3D printing hardware, software, materials, and applications.
Out of the more than 2,400 3D printing start-ups that AM Ventures has evaluated to date, Philip Schultheiss, a Senior Associate at the firm, says it has backed Fortius Metals due to the aerospace and defense potential of its technology.
“Jeffrey [Lints] and his talented team are developing not only a way of making high strength metals readily available for large scale printing and traditional welding, but also increasing their mechanical properties, an investment was just logical,” explained Schultheiss. “Fortius Metals’ position as a potential supplier to technologically cutting-edge aerospace and defense customers inspired AM Ventures to navigate complex CFIUS clearance rules for their investment in order to open the door to a long-term partnership with Fortius.”
Just like Elementum 3D and Fortius Metals, several other firms market wire feedstocks for the aerospace, automotive and defense metal 3D printing markets. For its Laser Metal Deposition technology, Meltio launched its own wire materials earlier this year, which are designed to enable higher repeatability and streamline users’ experiences.
As part of the ‘FastWireAM’ R&D program, Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies (HMT) is also developing a new compact wire-feed system for laser-based 3D printing. When the initiative launched last year, HMT pledged to work with TWI and wire feedstock producer Epoch Wires, to optimize the material’s performance, and accelerate its adoption.
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Featured image shows a spool of Fortius Metals-developed wire feedstock. Photo via Fortius Metals.