Ultima Forma manufactures metal components using a novel electrodeposition process to produce light-weight, high performance, multifunctional, complex shaped components to net shape. The high strength-to weight ratios that our technology can achieve, combined with low-mass design solutions, makes Ultima Forma competitive with light alloys in high performance applications. The process generates virtually zero waste, uses low energy and uses only earth abundant elements, making it a predominantly green manufacturing route.
Whilst our process can be described as metal additive manufacturing, it is quite different to 3D printing. Metal is deposited atom by atom all over the surface area of the part, in a near room temperature process. Our automated manufacturing has the ability to control the material that is deposited, allowing us to tune the material properties within the component. Metal can be deposited onto an existing substrate material or onto a removable mandrel or preform shape. There are no real restrictions on the size of the part that can be manufactured and the process is easily scalable from individual prototype components to bespoke parts to parallel manufacturing of hundreds of components. The process is well-suited to a digital design-to-manufacture workflow.
Our technology enables the following engineering capabilities that offer unprecedented design freedom.
In our technology we design the material as well as the component. Rather than choosing a metal alloy to manufacture from, we can design a material across a wide range of mechanical properties, spanning most of the useable range of metallic materials. Athermal material designs that retain their properties to 600°C are possible.
By using removable preforms, that are often 3D printed, intricate structures can be produced that are impossible by conventional manufacturing. Thinner wall structures and greater integrity can be achieved than with metal 3D printing. Metal is deposited only where it is needed and components are built from the inside surface to the outside surface. Different functionalities can be incorporated throughout the build. Light-weight hollow structures in a continuous form can be produced with no requirement for joining. This approach unlocks a different design strategy for heat management components by starting with the heat flow pathway and designing a component around it.
Our technology can easily be combined with other materials to form hybrid structures, for example existing metal components, fixtures and fittings, carbon fibre composite structures or light-weight core materials. This capability enables seamless combination of disparate components into a single entity. The metal deposited is dense and continuous, creating haematic barriers and corrosion resistant surfaces with high surface finish and low flaw populations.
The tuneability of our materials can be varied within a single component, both along the length and through the thickness, to produce truly functionally graded components. This capability allows structural elements, thermal management, safety features and fixtures to be combined into multifunctional components – allowing for more compact designs and more efficient assembly.