California-based Continuum, a subsidiary of MolyWorks and a developer of sustainable metal powders, has raised $36 million in funding to their sustainable ventures. The company, which has been recognized for its innovative products, developed “Optipowder” feedstocks specifically for 3D printing and metal injection molding (MIM) systems that are made entirely from recycled materials. With the support of Ara Partners, a private equity firm focused on industrial decarbonization, Continuum aims to expand its production capabilities to meet the increasing demand for its products. According to Phil Ward, the CEO of Continuum, “The additive manufacturing powder market is expected to more than triple over the next five years as the 3D printing industry hits a commercial inflection point.” He added that “Ara’s investment allows us to supply the industry’s growth with a sustainable solution.”
Continuum is a newly-established commercial entity that is the offspring of MolyWorks Materials Corporation. MolyWorks is an eco-friendly metal 3D printing material developer that has already made a significant impact in the industry through its development of Greyhound Technology, a plasma atomization process that repurposes metal goods with a smaller environmental footprint than many traditional technologies. MolyWorks received the sustainability award at the 3D Printing Industry Awards this year and continues to expand the use of its environmentally friendly powders. This year, it received ISO:9001-2015 and AS:9100AD certification for its Greyhound system and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Singapore Polytechnic to accelerate the use of recycled metals in maritime and offshore applications. Continuum, like its parent company, is focused on promoting circular manufacturing, specifically by addressing the “missing link in the circular metal supply chain,” by producing high-quality engineered parts made entirely from recycled and responsibly-sourced materials.
Continuum’s Optipowder is manufactured using the same Greyhound foundry system that produces MolyWorks‘ materials, and it’s said to offer “complete traceability and maximum purity.” The metals, which are available in over 30 different alloys, are also ISO/AS certified, and are engineered for use with cold spray, 3D printing, metal injection molding and other processes. The company currently offers four metal variations on its website: a nickel-based superalloy, stainless steel 316L, Ti64 grade 5 and Ti64 grade 23, which are all compatible with industry-leading machines from manufacturers such as EOS, 3D Systems, Renishaw, Optomec, MELD, Arcam, Concept Laser and Additive Industries. According to Cory Steffek, Partner at Ara, creating a circular metals economy is crucial to meet the world’s sustainability goals, as titanium, stainless steel, and inconel alone account for tens of millions of tons of scrap metal each year that needs to be repurposed in the new sustainable economy. With the $36 million in funding, Continuum aims to scale its capacity to meet growing customer demand and address this enormous hurdle.
As the trend towards sustainability continues to gain momentum in the metal 3D printing industry, companies are looking for ways to produce more eco-friendly materials. One such company is 6K Additive, which uses UniMelt reactors to recycle millings, turnings, and other discarded metals into usable powders. In April 2022, Epson Atmix also received approval for its new metal powder recycling facility, set to open by 2025, which will convert scrap metals into usable 3D printing powders. Additionally, IperionX’s 3D printing titaniums are gaining popularity in the industry, as the company went public on the Nasdaq exchange earlier this year, seeking increased liquidity and exposure to new investors.