LIVONIA — Phillips Service Industries Inc., a privately held manufacturing and services holding company, announced Wednesday that it is researching locations to build a new, high-tech additive manufacturing plant to produce large-scale parts for the aerospace and defense industries.

Phillips said that “some” of the states under consideration include Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, New York and Michigan.

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PSI is also investigating opportunities to set up additive manufacturing programs with academic institutions that seek to advance the state of manufacturing technology.

Additive manufacturing — also known as 3D printing — refers to technologies that create objects through a sequential layering process. The term has turned into a “buzz” word since President Barack Obama personally embraced the technology during his State of the Union address in January 2013.  

PSI’s Electron Beam Direct Manufacturing technology, which combines computer-aided design, electron beam welding and additive manufacturing processing, is the force driving this growth.

Chicago-based Sciaky Inc., a subsidiary of PSI, has pioneered this technology since 1998. Today, EBDM remains the only large-scale, fully-programmable means of achieving near-net shape parts made of high-value metals like titanium, tantalum, and inconel, a nickel-base alloy with chromium and iron used in gas-turbine blades.

EBDM allows manufacturers to save time and money over traditional manufacturing and prototyping processes by significantly reducing material costs and lead times, as well as slashing machine time by as much as 80 percent.

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Mike Riley, Editor of Fabricating & Metalworking Magazine, alluded to the potential of EBDM in a May 2012 article titled The Long and Winding Road: “EBDM targets the most expensive materials to process on the planet for the most demanding critical applications known to man and, in every case, could potentially cut the purchased price of the typical material lot sizes by orders of magnitude… No more headaches waiting for dies, molds, expensive billets, etc. Game changing.”

Over the past four years, PSI and Sciaky have been involved in advanced research and development projects with the Department of Defense, the U.S. Air Force, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, Boeing, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Pennsylvania State University’s Applied Research Lab to further advance EBDM technology.

According to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the global aerospace and defense manufacturing industry is worth $170 billion. 

“This (EBDM) is indeed a game-changer,” said Stephen O’Bryan, vice president of F-35 program integration and business development at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, during a DOD Mentor-Protege Ceremony at Sciaky Inc. on April 12. “The implications for cost-savings are astronomical. On just one part of the Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft, known as the Flaperon Spars, it is estimated that pre-forms made using EBDM technology, in lieu of the current process, will save the Air Force $100 million” over the lifetime of the aircraft.

PSI president and CEO Scott Phillips said that a decision for selecting a location for the additive manufacturing plant could be made in the next six months.

“PSI is all about pushing the boundaries of technology,” said Phillips. “We see significant growth opportunities in the aerospace and defense markets, and we know that there are talented Americans out there that are looking for work, who would love to be part of the next big movement in manufacturing.”  

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