Boeing HorizonX Ventures took an equity stake in Digital Alloys Inc., a developer of multi-metal additive manufacturing systems for aerospace parts and other applications. Boeing is already a significant buyer of additive manufactured parts for aerostructures and other uses, particularly in high-value materials like titanium alloys.
The OEM noted its various commercial aerospace, defense, and space products include over 60,000 3D-printed parts.
Boeing did not indicate the value of its investment, but Digital Alloys noted it raised $12.9 reported it raised $12.9 million through a Series B funding round, including capital contributions from G20 Ventures, Lincoln Electric, and Khosla Ventures, besides Boeing HorizonX.
HorizonX is a venture fund set up by Boeing last year to execute direct investment capital for technology commercialization and new market access. Its previous investments have included ventures in artificial intelligence, enterprise software for augmented reality wearables used in manufacturing, field service, and logistics; and an alternative-propulsion aircraft program.
"Our investment in Digital Alloys will help Boeing produce metal structural aerospace parts faster and at higher volume than ever before," stated Brian Schettler, managing director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures.
Boeing noted that Digital Alloys' Joule Printing™ is a wire-based additive technology that can combine multiple metals quickly into individual part, which can improve the thermal, electrical, magnetic, and mechanical properties of a component.
Boeing emphasized that the process allows metals like titanium and high-temperature alloys to be 3D-printed for parts that could be used on Boeing products.
Wire-based AM is generally less cost-intensive than powder-bed forming technologies, and the Joule Printing reportedly will work with any metal in wire form. The wire-based process is also faster than powder-bed AM because wire positioning and melting of occur simultaneously, in one step. Preliminary steps, like powder handling, and subsequent steps, like sintering, also ae not necessary.
"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," according to Schettler.