Liberty, part of the GFG Alliance, has begun construction of a powder metals development facility in Teesside in the UK. The aim is to expand the group’s reach in specialist metals and into the emerging market for materials for 3D printing.

An initial £10m is being invested to set up Liberty Powder Metals, which will be based at the Materials Processing Institute's research and innovation campus and will incorporate a state-of-the art vacuum induction inert gas atomiser at its core. Alongside the atomiser, there are plans to install a range of sieving, blending, packaging and analytical equipment.

It is claimed that 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.

According to Liberty, the facility has been designed to achieve the highest-quality stainless steel and superalloy powders, and will help the company enhance its status in an £8 billion global marketplace.

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.

Dr Simon Pike, general manager for Liberty Powder Metals, said the company was grateful to its partners for the work so far. "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.”

Chris McDonald, CEO for the Materials Processing Industry, said: “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.”

Commissioning will take place from December with the aim of producing powders for sale from March 2020.