NanoSteel Inks Deal with Lincoln Electric, Readies Automotive Trials

NanoSteel, a Providence, RI-based company focused on developing iron-based alloys for the auto, mining, power, and oil and gas industries, has announced a licensing deal with Lincoln Electric for a steel coating technology used in weld overlays and thermal spray applications. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Lincoln Electric, based in Cleveland, OH, is a global leader in the design, development, and manufacturing of arc welding products, says NanoSteel president and CEO David Paratore. “For them to give NanoSteel a stamp of approval validates our technology and our business model,” he says.

By licensing NanoSteel’s wear-resistant coating, Lincoln Electric will expand its line of products that seek to extend the service life of equipment used in power generation, mining, and other industries. Paratore describes the coating as one of NanoSteel’s legacy products; the company is also hard at work on processes used to produce light-weight steel alloys.

Paratore says NanoSteel, which was established in 2002, made a technological breakthrough last year that has shifted the company’s focus away from strip casting—a continuous process for producing metallic sheets directly from a molten state, reducing the need for secondary processing to achieve the required dimensions—and towards thin- and thick-slab casting, a common process used to produce light-weight rolled sheet steel for use in the auto industry.

Not only are the steel alloys strong and malleable, Paratore says, they’re also competitively priced because the iron used is relatively cheap and abundant. NanoSteel competes with a number of other materials companies, including Seattle-based Modumetal, which makes advanced coatings and alloys.

Paratore says NanoSteel is working with steel producers and North American auto manufacturers—he declined to name them—on two automotive trials launching soon that will test the company’s rolled-steel products. In 2012, NanoSteel raised a $12 million Series C round that was led by GM Ventures. At the time, GM Ventures spokesman Dan Flores told Xconomy NanoSteel’s light-weight steel alloy technology was “extremely promising.”

“It all comes down to the same thing: NanoSteel materials are designed to have higher strength and more ductility,” Paratore adds.

Paratore says NanoSteel, which has an office in Troy, MI, is also hard at work developing powdered steel alloys for use in additive manufacturing and 3D printing. “We’re still moving down the path, but we’ll have an idea of whether iron-based alloys are good for use in 3D printing soon,” he says.

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