Huang Weidong, a researcher at China’s Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi’an, has seen his lab project of 3D printing metal products grow into a business that has achieved production values of 100 million yuan (US$16 million), the Chinese-language Economic Observer reports.
Huang began his research in the field of Additive Manufacturing involving metallic materials in 1995 and later headed a lab at the university in 1999. In 2007 Huang Weidong’s lab sold its first 3D printer for metallic products, however the research and teaching workload of Huang and his colleagues hindered them from offering further services to the buyer.
Huang established Bright Laser Technologies (BLT) in July 2011. The company is reported to have seen its output value quadruple in 2014. It is currently working with 75 companies in the field of aviation and space including the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, which designed and built the country’s largest commercial jet, the C919.
BLT holds 23 patents in metal Additive Manufacturing. It has the ability to manufacture products with dimensions ranging from 1 mm to 5 m and form more than 40 types of titanium alloys, superalloys, aluminium alloys, stainless steel and high-strength steel. The titanium alloy component that BLT produced for the C919 aircraft is the largest manufactured laser-formed piece in the world, the newspaper added.
BLT is expected to open a new 60,000m2 production facility in Xi’an this year. BLT General Manager Xue Lei said that the company is also planning to increase its research and development staff in order to ensure that the company remains on the cutting edge.“3D printing technology is still in its early phase and the company is taking on the responsibility of promoting and expanding its market,” Xue said.