Following SpaceX's Historic 3-D Printing Announcement, Arcam Beefs Up Its Aerospace Metals Offerings

The addition of an inconel superalloy to its materials arsenal should help 3-D printer maker Arcam further penetrate the key aerospace market.

Jun 11, 2014 at 11:33AM

Swedish industrial metals 3-D printer maker Arcam (NASDAQOTH:AMAVF) announced Monday that it had launched Inconel 718 as a qualified material for use in its proprietary electron beam melting, or EBM, systems. Here's what investors should know.

Arcam's announcement
Arcam's press release said the Inconel process is "initially" available for its A2X platform. So I'd imagine the company plans to roll out Inconel 718 to some of its other platforms as well. Arcam's A2X is a 3-D printer that is highly suited for processing high temperature materials and is used for aerospace applications.

Inconel, which is a trademark belonging to Precision Castparts (NYSE:PCP), is a family of superalloys based on nickel-chromium. Titanium and Inconel are the "big two" of aerospace metals, though Inconel has other applications. Inconel alloys retain their strength over a wide temperature range and are also oxidation- and corrosion-resistant, which makes them a good fit for extreme environments.

The qualification testing was performed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Arcam has long partnered with ORNL, which is a world leader in advanced materials research and development.

"With the introduction of the Inconel 718 our customers in the aerospace industry can now further expand the range of components that they produce in their EBM machines," Arcam CEO Magnus Rene said in the press release.

Arcam A

The A2X 3-D printer can now print in an inconel superalloy. Source: Arcam.

The aerospace industry is fired up about 3-D printing
The aerospace industry was one of the early adopters of 3-D printing, and is increasingly embracing this disruptive technology for an ever-widening array of applications. It's a huge and diverse market, which includes commercial and military aircraft, space applications, and missiles, along with engines and other various subsystems.

Size and diversity aren't the only factors that make the aerospace industry especially attractive to 3-D printing companies. There is also the high barrier to entry, the result of the critical end-use applications. This is in stark contrast to the low-hanging fruit that is the consumer market, which continues to see new entrants pour in. The bar is higher to enter the commercial space, but still not nearly as high as the industrial market. Typically, the higher the barrier to entry in any given space, the more pricing power companies operating in that space possess. This is largely why investors should focus on the 3-D printing companies that are winning in the more profitable, non-consumer markets.

SpaceX provides a perfect recent example of the huge inroads that 3-D printing is making in the aerospace industry. The space transportation company founded by Elon Musk said in late May it had completed qualification testing for the SuperDraco, an engine that will power the Dragon V2 spacecraft's launch escape system. In a revolutionary first, the SuperDraco's Inconel engine chamber was produced using 3-D printing. 

"Through 3D printing, robust and high-performing engine parts can be created at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional manufacturing methods," Musk, SpaceX chief designer and CEO, said in a press release.

SpaceX used a 3-D printer made by privately held EOS to produce the chamber. The Germany-based company's proprietary direct metal laser sintering technology is widely considered to be top-notch. 3D Systems' printers also feature laser sintering, which is the most commonly used technology for 3-D printing in metals, while ExOne's systems use its binder jetting technology. 3D Systems has had Inconel-printing capabilities since acquiring metal-printing specialist Phenix Systems last summer, while ExOne is slated to roll out Inconel alloy 625 this month.

Foolish final thoughts
Arcam is a key 3-D printing player in the aerospace market. The addition of an Inconel superalloy to its aerospace materials' arsenal -- which already includes titanium alloys -- should help the company further penetrate this lucrative niche.

Additionally, Inconel is reportedly a difficult metal to machine using traditional subtractive manufacturing techniques. This, to me, implies that we could see a greater increase in the use of 3-D printing to produce components made of Inconel than is likely for components comprised of other metals. 

3-D printing is a megatrend, but it's not the only one that you could profit from 
The one sure way to get wealthy is to invest in a groundbreaking company that goes on to dominate a multibillion-dollar industry. Our analysts have found multi-bagger stocks time and again. And now they think they've done it again with three stock picks that they believe could generate the same type of phenomenal returns. They've revealed these picks in a new free report that you can download instantly by clicking here now.

Beth McKenna has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Precision Castparts. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers