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Additive Manufacturing Solutions Ltd (AMS) is embarking on an exciting new project to explore the feasibility and practical possibilities of using recycled metallic materials in additive manufacturing (AM).

The Innovate UK-funded project Recycling and Reuse of Aerospace Materials for Additive Manufacturing (R2AM2) will investigate the potential to recycle parts into feedstock for metal AM and the processability and final part performance of recycled AM production.

The recycling aircraft article by Dan Zhao et al 2021 estimates there are 740 tonnes of non-ferrous (not including aluminium) metals available to recycle each year but only a fraction of that is ever recycled. The project aims to explore a potential environmental step change in the ways materials are used for additive manufacturing.

Research suggests that the international AM powder market is expected to top $1 billion in 2023 with titanium likely 1/3 of that market (source: 6K Additive). As our planet is not an endless resource, alongside restrictions in supply and increase in costs due to ongoing conflict, it is more important than ever to look at the ca. 600 tonnes of recycled aircraft parts that could support this growth by providing a lower cost, high quality product. AMS is calling this high value scrap mining and believes if re-usable feedstock is available, it is likely that an alternate to mining can be seen in the UK for the UK market.

CEO and founder of AMS, Robert Higham, said: “The UK was once a leader in AM technology, and we have since seen a stagnation period, with our work alongside the output of this project we aspire to enable a vibrant and highly profitable UK source of feedstock and catalyst for material producing parts for our defence, space, aerospace, and automotive industries.

Having Innovate UK support our research and development in this field is a significant and crucial step in our plans as AMS. If we are to continue with our ambitious plans to promote and increase on shore manufacturing it is crucial we enable a secure and sustainable supply chain of product. This project is the first step in providing valuable data as to the true possibilities of high value circular economy development. We are honoured to be awarded the funding to allow us to take this idea to an industrial feasibility state.”

The project is underway and will end in November 2023. AMS will be using scrap aerospace parts and recycling them into powder which will then be tested and used to manufacture new parts. These new parts will provide the vital data needed to evaluate if this process is effective in providing recycled materials for high quality feedstock for AM in the UK.

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