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POWDER: DeveloPment and Optimisation of 3D Printing with neW Certified PowDER Material.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - POWDER (POWDER: DeveloPment and Optimisation of 3D Printing with neW Certified PowDER Material.)

Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2018-08-31

With POWDER, our company RB aims to launch an innovative metal powder specifically tailored for 3D printing (additive manufacturing, AM) of metal moulds and tools. So far, the great technological potential of 3D-printed moulds has not been commercially exploited due to the high cost of the available raw materials. Owing to its more convenient price and various quality options, our innovation will lead to a substantial reduction in cost of highly-performant 3D-printed moulds and increase their attractiveness for moulded plastic producers.
The POWDER project aims at achieving the required technical and commercial advancements for successfully preparing RB powder and RB 3D-printed moulds for their launch into the market. Through POWDER, RB aims at producing various powder formulations, as well as adjusting the 3D printing process (Selective Laser Melting, SLM) to the new powder specifics. POWDER will also support the commercial penetration of RB in high-volume plastic markets (such as biomedical, packaging) and in the AM market for metal powders.
POWDER will provide RB with the technical advancements and commercial readiness necessary for further expand in the world. The final goal of POWDER is to establish our metal powder as leading raw material in the growing metal 3D printing market and to successfully commercialise resulting 3D-printed moulds in moulded plastic markets
During the SME Instrument Phase 1, we covered the technical, commercial and financial feasibility of POWDER.
In the first part, we analysed the status of the technology validation and performed fundamental tests. First, we obtained a first powder formulation by iteratively improving a commercial powder. Then, we showed that our powder can be effectively used to print mould prototypes whose mechanical properties are suitable for the moulding process. Finally, we used mould prototypes to simulate the production of plastic items, showing the expected benefits of 3D-printed moulds in comparison with conventional ones. As a result, we defined the work plan for the development of our innovation. The production of various powder types, the adjustment of the manufacturing process and the physio-chemical/mechanical characterisation of moulds were identified as technical priorities within POWDER.
In the second part, a summarized analysis of the target markets is presented for the main applications of POWDER. The competing solutions and companies are introduced, and the value chain is shown. We included an update as well on the commercialization plan. The IP management strategy is explained and the results of the Freedom to Operate are summarized.
In the third part, a summary on the financial viability assessment is shown that establishes the budget necessary for the development of the RB powder and moulds, and the revenues and expenses projections for the next five years.
RB has analysed the technical risks of the project considering the work necessary to advance the TRL and planed possible actions to minimize the impact. During the project, we obtained a first powder formulation, predicted to be 20% cheaper than currently available powders. The resulting moulds are as strong as conventional ones (in terms of fatigue strength, tensile strength, hardness) and suitable for industrial applications. We also showed that each moulding cycle with 3D-printed moulds can be up to 48% shorter, leading to a faster production of plastic items.
The commercialisation of more convenient RB powder and moulds will make us reap the advantages of 3D printing applied to moulds and tools: both companies producing plastic items and 3D-printing firms will be interested in our innovation. In particular, SMEs in the plastic market that so far have discarded 3D printing due to its high cost will be able to gain access to the AM technological advantages by purchasing our moulds.
POWDER will have an important impact in our business plan, expecting to increase our revenue from will increase our revenues in +68% five years after commercialisation. During the Feasibility Study, we have estimated that POWDER will lead to the creation of at least 9 high-skilled jobs. With a total investment of approx. 2.2 million €, RB will have a direct economic and social impact, positioning as a pioneer in moulds 3D printing.