French company Thales will establish a new industrial competence centre for 3D metal printing in Morocco.

Thales said that 3D printing will reduce the time required to develop and manufacture high-value parts in complex metal alloys for aerospace and space applications.

The construction at the centre is scheduled to begin by next year and will be fully functional by 2018.

"This project consolidates Morocco’s position as a key industrial platform."

Morocco has launched its 2014-2020 Industrial Acceleration Plan to develop a modern and new ecosystem with the help of Thales and other local bodies.

Morocco’s Minister of Industry, Trade, Investment and Digital Economy Moulay Hafid Elalamy said: "This project consolidates Morocco’s position as a key industrial platform, expanding our aerospace ecosystem to include a new technology that will undoubtedly shape the future of the aerospace industry."

Thales and Moroccan authorities have agreed upon three major areas of cooperation and establishing a high-tech industrial competence centre in the country is one of them.

Thales Morocco country director Pierre Prigent said: "This competence centre will give us access to a highly capable ecosystem of industrial suppliers specialising in mechanical parts; helping us meet all our requirements in terms of material, performance and reproducibility for the aerospace and space markets."

Through additive manufacturing or 3D printing, it is easier to produce more complex internal structures easily and quickly than traditional methods.

Thales uses high-intensity laser beam to melt successive layers of metal alloy powders in its 3D printing technology to develop and produce superior parts in complex metal alloys for several aerospace and space applications.

With the new centre, Thales further expects to take its current pre-product investment programme forward in order to promote 3D printing technology in France and abroad.

In October, Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture of Thales had announced that it would include spacecraft parts made using a 3D printing technology in the company’s under development Koreasat 5A and Koreasat 7 telecommunications satellites.

Said to be the largest part made with the technology in Europe, the parts measure approximately 45cm by 40cm by 21cm.

Image: Thales to establish 3D printing centre in Morocco. Photo: courtesy of Thales Group.