Additive manufacturing company Aconity3D establishes U.S. operations

The University of Texas at El Paso will serve as the North American operations for additive manufacturing equipment maker Aconity3D.

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Under a new agreement, the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP; El Paso, TX) will serve as the North American base of operations for laser additive manufacturing equipment maker Aconity3D (Herzogenrath, Germany). The company develops laser-based 3D printing machines for fabrication of complex metal parts for use in airplanes, automobiles, and medical implants, among other uses.

Aconity3D leaders say they were drawn to UTEP because of the prominence, expertise, and facilities offered by the W. M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation at UTEP. Since 2000, the Keck Center and UTEP's College of Engineering have made strategic investments in additive manufacturing technologies to assist manufacturers in prototyping parts before investing in costly manufacturing tools needed for production.

UTEP's agreement with Aconity3D will further enhance its production and service operations, attract high-end jobs for engineering students in the community, and advance the broader technology through meaningful research investigations involving UTEP, Aconity3D, government agencies, and industry. Global interest in metal 3D printing continues its rapid ascent as industry now looks to 3D printing to build next-generation products. AconityUS will be located at the University Towers Building, 1900 N. Oregon, El Paso, TX 79902.

Initially, Aconity3D will begin its operations in El Paso with a chief executive officer and plans to hire up to three employees within a year, focusing on UTEP graduates of the Keck Center with unique expertise in Aconity3D's technology. The partnership's long-term goal is to develop a technical center and research space in Keck Center facilities, which will operate in tandem with Aconity3D's German headquarters to sell and service its 3D printers for North America. In Germany, Aconity3D has grown from a startup established in 2014 to a thriving company with more than 50 employees. As its North American operations advance, the need for more engineering talent is expected to rise, and UTEP is poised to address Aconity3D's workforce needs.

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(L-R, front row) UTEP President Diana Natalicio; Yves Hagedorn, Aconity3D, managing director; and Florian Sondermann, AconityUS, managing director. (L-R, top row) Ryan Wicker, Ph.D., Keck Center director; Zia Uddin, student researcher; Alfonso Fernandez, powder bed manager; Francisco Medina, director of technology and engagement; Mireya Flores, Keck Center manager; and Philip Morton, applications manager. (Image credit: UTEP Communications)

Extending its reach to the United States, Aconity3D saw the Keck Center's success in the field of 3D printing and commitment to boost economic development as uniquely positioning UTEP for this collaboration. In 2015, UTEP's Keck Center became the first satellite center for America Makes, a collaborative partner in 3D printing technology research, discovery, creation, and innovation. Structured as a public-private partnership with member organizations from industry, academia, government, nongovernment agencies, and workforce and economic development resources, America Makes partners work together to innovate and accelerate 3D printing to increase the country's global manufacturing competitiveness.

The Keck Center is already home to a printer manufactured by Aconity3D. The laser powder bed fusion technology, as the particular 3D printing technology is known, uses metal powder and a laser controlled by a customized software platform capable of unprecedented design control. The process builds complicated 3D metal components layer by layer.

Aconity3D's Herzogenrath facility is located near the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (Fraunhofer ILT; Aachen, Germany), which specializes in laser metal 3D printing technology and where almost all of Aconity3D's founders and employees pursued their advanced engineering degrees. Aconity3D maintains a strong collaboration with Fraunhofer ILT, which includes supporting students and interns from Fraunhofer ILT at their company. This model will be implemented in El Paso, including student internships in Germany and El Paso between Aconity3D and UTEP.

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