Cascade: creating a UK-based supply chain for powders for Net-Shape and Additive Manufacturing

Cascade: creating a UK-based supply chain for powders for Net-Shape and Additive Manufacturing

Case Studies Cascade: creating a UK-based supply chain for powders for Net-Shape and Additive Manufacturing

The Challenge

Metal powders are widely used within net-shape and additive manufacturing (NS&AM) processes for sectors such as aerospace and automotive. As metal powders are primarily produced in Sweden and the USA, a UK based supply chain is needed to service growing market demand.

Liberty Speciality Steels (LSS), an experienced manufacturer of highly engineered steels, decided to expand its capabilities into steel and nickel powder production and sought the MTC’s support to achieve this ambition. 

MTC's Solution

Through the CASCADE programme, LSS and the MTC have worked collaboratively with seven other partners to develop a range of technologies across the metal powder supply chain.

Supported by Finance Birmingham via an AMSCI fund, CASCADE has enabled LSS to establish its first powder production facility, which currently has the capacity to take new orders for delivery in June – July 2020.

The MTC has supported LSS in developing powders by providing access to world-leading capabilities, including state-of-the-art powder characterisation labs, industrial-scale hot-isostatic pressing (HIP) and metal-injection moulding (MIM) facilities.

Gill Thornton, Senior Project Manager, CASCADE said:

“The CASCADE project has enabled Liberty Speciality Steels to establish unique capabilities in metal powder production, characterisation and testing, which is expected to create high-skill jobs in the UK and serve a wide range of high-value manufacturing sectors in the UK and worldwide”.

The Outcome

  • Successful completion of the project has enabled Liberty to acquire a vacuum induction melting gas atomiser with an anti-satellite system, capable of producing highly spherical steel and nickel powders with minimum amount of satellites and improved flow ability, making them ideal powders for AM.
  • LPM has also developed the capability to handle and package powders under inert atmosphere to reduce moisture and improve powder performance.

Benefits to the client

  • LSS has established a new business, Liberty Powder Metals (LPM), as a UK-based powder metal supplier and innovation incubator supported by the Tees Valley Combined Authority.
  • Up to 50 jobs are planned to be created as a result of the project.
Simon Pike, General Manager Liberty Powder Metals Ltd said:
“This project will be a very significant step forward for the international metals industry. We are very proud to work with valued partners to bring this game-changing innovation to the North-East and to build on the excellent foundations laid by the CASCADE project."


Related information

Our partnership with the MTC provides us with a collaborative environment, allowing for the realisation of a joint vision for UK Manufacturing. ATS are able to tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience that both the MTC, and other member organisations offer, which in turn delivers real value from our investment.
Kevin Partington
UK Managing Director, ATS Global