£20m to accelerate commercialisation of 3D printing metal powder tech

Posted on 19 Feb 2016 by Jonny Williamson

Yorkshire-based Metalysis has announced a combined investment of £20 million from Woodford Patient Capital Trust, managed by Neil Woodford - one of Britain’s most prominent fund managers, and Iluka Resources, an existing investor in Metalysis.

The increased use of metal powders in 3D printing is driving increased innovation in several sectors, including aerospace, automotive and biomedical engineering.

Metalysis’ technology produces metal powders – primarily titanium, tantalum and bespoke alloys – at lower cost with reduced environmental impact. 

Metalysis’ innovative solid state technology produces high grade metal powders directly from feedstock in one step. High grade and uniform, the lower-cost powders suit a wide variety of 3D printing needs across a variety of high-tech, industrial and manufacturing sectors.

The company has recently completed a programme with TWI, a UK leader in materials technology innovation, which demonstrated the feasibility of its bespoke powders for 3D printing orthopaedic hip implants.

This investment will help support Metalysis’ continued growth and its commercial rollout, through strategic partnerships and licensing of its disruptive technology.

Based in South Yorkshire, Metalysis is an emerging technology company which is successfully drawing on the metallurgical heritage and expertise of the region.  Its success to date has been underpinned by strong R&D relationships with Sheffield, Cambridge and Newcastle Universities.

CEO of Metalysis, Dion Vaughan explained: “Metalysis’ development and expansion over recent years has been remarkable, as we have attracted strong market interest and developed great commercial relationships.

“This latest investment underpins our commitment to deliver against the enormous potential of our disruptive powder metals technology. In Iluka and Woodford Patient Capital Trust, we have outstanding strategic partners and we welcome their support alongside longstanding backers such as Environmental Technologies Fund in realising the commercial potential of our technology.”

Managing director of Iluka Resources – which will increase its interest in Metalysis to 28.8% as a result of this funding round, David Robb commented: “The prospect of commercial volumes of titanium metal powder, direct from rutile and synthetic rutile, at a materially lower cost than current technologies, could drive a dramatic expansion in global demand for titanium metal and titanium alloys.

Metalysis’ technology reportedly produces metal powders – primarily titanium, tantalum and bespoke alloys – at lower cost with reduced environmental impact.
Metalysis’ technology produces metal powders – primarily titanium, tantalum and bespoke alloys – at lower cost with reduced environmental impact.

“The application of titanium powder in 3D printing also presents potentially significant opportunities in a rapidly expanding market. Such developments would be positive for high grade titanium dioxide feedstock demand.”

Existing shareholders – including BHP Billiton; Interogo Treasury; Chord Capital; Inter Ikea; Seven Spires; Encore, and Environmental Technologies Fund – are still invested and fully engaged with the commercial development of Metalysis’ technology through representation on the Board. 

Following the investment Iluka will have the right to nominate two directors to the Board of Metalysis.

Managing partner of Environmental Technologies Fund, Patrick Sheehan said: “[We] identified Metalysis in 2007 as having a demand-driven technology with a game-changing environmental and commercial potential.

“This latest funding round shows how far Metalysis has come in delivering on this potential. The company’s ground-breaking powder metals technology allows industrial volumes of titanium powder to be made at much lower costs and is helping to drive the 3D printing revolution.

“On top of that, the technology has major environmental benefits in one of the dirtiest and most capital intensive of industrial processes. For evidence of the UK’s Northern industrial powerhouse taking on the world, look no further than Yorkshire-based Metalysis.”