Liberty, part of the GFG Alliance of industrial companies, has begun construction of a powder metals development facility in Teesside that will expand the group’s reach in specialist metals and, ultimately, into the emerging market for materials for 3D printing.
Representatives of Liberty Powder Metals, Atomising Systems Ltd (ASL) and Stockton-based K-Home International joined the Mayor of the Tees Valley, Ben Houchen, to celebrate the milestone at the Materials Processing Institute research and innovation campus where the facility will be based.
An initial £10m is being invested to set up the Liberty Powder Metals business including a state-of-the-art vacuum induction inert gas atomiser at its core.
The facility is designed to achieve the highest-quality stainless steel and superalloy powders, helping Liberty to enhance its status in a global market estimated to be worth £8bn a year.
Alongside the atomiser, there are plans to install a range of sieving, blending, packaging and analytical equipment.
The atomiser will allow Liberty to develop a new generation of powdered steels that can overcome the traditional barriers to 3D printing and enhance Liberty’s position in the supply chain for precision steel components used in rapidly-changing and advanced sectors such as aerospace, automotive, energy and specialist industrial equipment.
Internationally-recognised Atomising Systems Ltd (ASL) alongside partners Consarc Engineering have designed the equipment while K-Home International, a globally experienced engineering specialist, is managing the installation at the Materials Processing Institute.
Being located on the Institute campus will give Liberty Powder Metals easy access to both state-of-the-art research facilities and the expertise based there.
General Manager for Liberty Powder Metals, Dr Simon Pike, said: “We are grateful to our partners for the work they have done to reach this stage. Finance from Tees Valley Combined Authority has been critical in making the project a reality and I look forward to continuing all our partnerships to make Teesside a global-leading centre of expertise for powder metal production.”
Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor said: “The start of construction of Liberty Powder Metals new Teesside facility is a significant milestone in a project that will put our region at the forefront of a revolutionary new industry.
“We invested £4.6 million in this ground-breaking project because we could see just how important the high-grade metal powders Liberty will produce will be. By investing in new technologies, we’re staying ahead of the curve and creating the jobs for future industries.
Chief Executive Officer for the Materials Processing Institute, Chris McDonald, said: “We are glad to see construction now starting. Advanced materials development is a core area of research at the Institute and this investment by Liberty Powder Metals is an example of the benefits of partnerships and collaborations between industry and the Institute.”
Commercial and Business Development Manager for Liberty Powder Metals, Tom Sellers, said: “We are excited about the progress to date and I am looking forward to bringing our products to market and developing our customer base along with the strength of the Liberty brand.”
Commissioning will take place from December with the aim of producing powders for sale from March 2020.