Materion receives $5 million from the US Air Force for 3D Printing with Beryllium.


**Revolutionizing Additive Manufacturing with Beryllium Powders: A $5 Million Contract**

In a groundbreaking move, the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) recently awarded a two-year, $5 million contract to Materion Corporation of Ohio. This contract aims to expand Materion’s research and development (R&D) into 3D printing applications for beryllium and aluminum-beryllium powders. What makes this contract particularly significant is that Materion’s R&D into additive manufacturing (AM) applications for beryllium extends beyond defense and aerospace into the energy market.

Beryllium is a remarkable metal known for its rare balance between high strength and thermal conductivity, while maintaining relatively low density. It is widely used in the manufacturing of aircraft, spacecraft components, and satellites. With the AFRL contract, Materion’s R&D for beryllium powders will be enhanced, enabling them to be used in “multiple deposition technologies.” This expansion also includes pre- and post-processing, as well as workforce development, to support the objective.

In response to the AFRL’s award, Clive Grannum, the president of Materion Performance Materials, expressed excitement about the opportunity to advance their research efforts in collaboration with the US-AFRL. He stated, “Our laboratory has demonstrated the viability of beryllium additive manufacturing, and we look forward to working with the US-AFRL to take our research and development to the next level. With our extensive expertise in innovating beryllium solutions, we are well-equipped to operationalize these specialized manufacturing techniques for both existing and new customers, who require more complex components for their next-generation applications.”

Although beryllium is a rare metal, its market is expected to grow significantly in the next decade due to its suitability for use in high-demand sectors, including defense, aerospace, and energy. Furthermore, the US is the largest producer of beryllium globally, with the US Geological Survey confirming that the nation is one of only three countries that process beryllium ores and concentrates into products. This makes standardization and scaling of AM applications for beryllium a lucrative opportunity for the US to establish a domestic supply chain for its manufacturing base.

Looking beyond the immediate applications mentioned, the future potential of beryllium use in AM is evident in the semiconductor industry. Beryllium oxide plays a crucial role in manufacturing heat management components for electronic products. Given the rapid development of Ohio into a hub for advanced manufacturing of electronics, with major stakeholders including the Department of Defense (DoD), the AFRL-Materion contract holds great significance for the state.

Overall, this contract exemplifies how various agencies within the US military are taking the reshoring of US manufacturing into their own hands. Efforts like these pave the way for a wholly domestic supply chain, providing national advantages and significantly bolstering the manufacturing sector. It is imperative for this reshoring movement to constantly address weaknesses and build upon existing strengths to thrive.

As we anticipate the results of Materion’s R&D in additive manufacturing with beryllium powders, the entire 3D printing industry eagerly awaits further developments and remains vigilant for new opportunities. Stay informed on the latest news from this industry as well as exclusive offers from third-party vendors by subscribing to our newsletter.

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