Partnering for success

Manufacturers’ Monthly sits down with Titomic managing director Herbert Koeck to learn about the company’s future plans – and how it continues to harness cold spray technology as a valuable tool to enter joint ventures with different manufacturers.

Titomic is an emerging Australian company, using its patented cold spray technology known as Titomic Kinetic Fusion. The business exists to not just provide equipment to manufacturers, but to allow industrial users across different sectors innovate their own processes. The cold spray technology is making ground in different sectors including aerospace, defence, shipbuilding, oil and gas and mining.

Cold spray is a process typically used in the remanufacturing of engine components and restoration of various equipment and surfaces. The system is comprised of a hand-held spray gun, two powder feeders and a touch screen controller in an IP50 case. Using metal powder, compressed air, and single-phase power, it can repair damaged components to original conditions in only a few minutes.

Titomic Kinetic Fusion utilises the supersonic particle deposition of metal powders to create industrial-scale parts. To build upon this, Titomic acquired a Netherlands-based cold spray technology company, Dycomet – now Titomic Europe – at the end of last year, which has a portfolio of portable cold spray solutions, materials and the provision of servicing, spare parts, and consumables for its systems.

“Titomic provides a complementary advanced manufacturing ability,” Koeck said. “Spraying metal on metal can achieve and deliver certain services which are innovative for more traditional manufacturing.”

“Our first stream of revenue is like many other companies – we are selling our machinery and service equipment, but that doesn’t differentiate us from many other manufacturing or 3D-printing companies, but Titomic has evolved beyond a 3D-printing company. What we are doing is engaging with manufacturing companies, where we provide a complementary technology which adds value to the manufacturing process, thereby creating a joint venture together. The  Joint  Ventures  solidify  Titomic’s  technology  as  commercially  competitive  and demonstrates the strength and success of our go-to-market strategy. It is one of Titomic’s key commercial focuses for accelerating growth within key markets, including defence and aerospace.”

Koeck explained that Titomic doesn’t want to be a disrupter for manufacturers –instead the technology can be an extremely valuable tool in their tool box. The company has joined experienced businesses to not displace, but to improve processes which have already been refined over a number of years. By understanding these companies’ strengths, Titomic is able to bring the technology faster to market by leveraging off existing expertise and customer relationships that have been in place for years.

“I’m prudent enough to say that we can’t understand all these industries as well as some existing players in certain industries,” he said. “We can bring technology into an actual manufacturing process faster than if we would do it on our own at half the cost. We are building our own relationships with defence and aerospace manufacturers, but these joint ventures are the most efficient way right now for us to bring this outstanding technology to the people who will benefit from it.”

Global challenges facing manufacturers don’t seem to be easing, which is opening the door for Titomic to partner with more manufacturers. Disrupted supply chains and geopolitical situations are leading to longer lead times for parts and raw elements, costing companies time and money.

Titomic’s partnership with Nèos International in the UK is an example of carving out a solution to supply issues, after the pair signed an agreement to create an advanced joint-manufacturing facility in Halesowen, England. The world’s first large scale additive manufacturing facility will manufacture and sell Invar36 faceplates and additively manufactured metal product solutions for customers in the United Kingdom and Europe for the aerospace, space, defence, automotive, and nuclear industries.

An integral part of Titomic’s business model is what Koeck refers to as ‘the kitchen.’ The kitchen (Titomic’s innovation centre) refers to Titomic’s manufacturing operations in Melbourne, where the company operates its own machinery. When a new trend emerges in a particular industry or the cold spray experts identify a use case for a specific application, the thought must be validated by results and data.

“When there is an idea, we have to validate it in the kitchen,” Koeck explained. “We conduct hundreds of small tests to optimise a process, going back and forth. The consequence of this could lead to another joint venture going forward. Usually in any kind of joint venture you have to consider the technical path and the commercial path – these two elements have to be intertwined. It’s easy to get overexcited about what we can do in-house if it’s not a good value proposition for businesses.”

Titomic’s cold spray technology is being used to improve manufacturing processes.

A world first facility

Titomic recently signed a comprehensive Joint Venture agreement to establish the world’s first hybrid cold spray, flow-forming manufacturing facility with Repkon Machine and Tool Industry and Trade Inc. In December 2021, the experienced manufacturer of weapons barrels became a strategic investor in Titomic through a $2.5 million investment. Koeck noted the successful progression to a Joint Venture with Repkon validates Titomic’s commercial approach and believe in the technology.

“The Titomic-Repkon Joint Venture has opened the door to a world-first high volume hybrid cold spray manufacturing facility. This was only possible by bringing Titomic’s TKF process and Repkon’s patented flowforming process together to produce high-performance components for weapons barrels,” he said.

To establish the facility, Titomic expects to sell two TKF Systems to the Titomic-Repkon Joint Venture, with the TKF Systems providing one of the two core processes in the manufacturing of barrels for the defence sector. This will include a TKF 1000 and a bespoke TKF 3250R, as well as consumables (powder).

The Titomic-Repkon Joint Venture’s facility, located in Turkey, will leverage both Titomic’s TKF and Repkon’s flowforming technologies, introducing new capabilities to barrel manufacturing within the defence sector including reduced lead times, diverse and unique material compositions and capabilities, reduced weight, and improved performance.

“The joint venture shows that Titomic’s cold spray process enables metal additive manufacturing in a high-volume commercial manufacturing environment, for a technically critical end application,” Koeck added. “With its ability to utilise the combination of two innovative processes in barrel manufacturing, the facility will lead the production of next-generation barrels with tailored performance characteristics for specific applications and missions. It opens up a world of many design features for barrel manufacturing which were not previously possible.”

Ibrahim Kulekci, CEO of Repkon, said the working relationship is a step forward for barrel manufacturing.

“Titomic is a leading company with proven reliability in metal additive manufacturing so, having them as our joint venture partner, will be extremely beneficial in producing and selling barrels designed by Repkon,” he said. “We believe the performance, superior strength-to-weight ratios, enhanced durability and cost advantages these products and manufacturing processes provide offer unique advantages for our barrels and we are keen to explore these opportunities even further over the next months and years.”

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