Thales opens metal 3D printing facility in Morocco


Thales has inaugurated a new facility in Casablanca, Morocco, specialising in metal additive manufacturing, also known as metal 3D printing.

The new industrial Competence Centre forms part of the Industrial Acceleration Plan 2014 to 2020, supported by the Kingdom of Morocco, which supports the development of an innovative ecosystem involving Thales and its local suppliers, including the creation of a high-tech industrial competence centre, Thales said earlier this month.

Metal 3D printing will lead to a reduction in the development and manufacturing times for parts with high added value made from complex metal alloys in all mechanical domains, in particular the aerospace and space domains.
“With an existing aerospace ecosystem of subcontractors, Morocco has everything needed to become Thales’ global centre of expertise in 3D printing,” said Pierre Prigent, Thales Country Director in Morocco.

Spread across an area of 1000 m², in the Midparc zone in Casablanca, this industrial Competence Centre will eventually employ around twenty engineers and technicians. It is currently equipped with two so-called selective laser melting technology machines. This technique, which involves fusing metal alloy powders using a high-intensity laser, is used to manufacture metal parts of unrivalled complexity, which cannot be manufactured using current technologies. It is freed from the high-reliability constraints of traditional manufacturing, while reducing the number of parts used and making them lighter. The initial qse series will be produced using aluminium and titanium, widely used in the aerospace sector. In the medium-term, Thales is planning to acquire 10 machines.

Thales has a long-standing partnership with Morocco. The company opened its local office in Rabat in 2006 and is active in Morocco in defence, aerospace, transportation and security, and has 45 employees. In the aerospace domain, Thales has supplied air navigation assistance equipment to the Moroccan Airports Authority (ONDA), along with on-board entertainment systems for the B737 and B787 aircraft of Royal Air Maroc.

In the defence domain, Thales is providing combat systems for Morocco’s SIGMA-class corvettes and communication systems and a sonar suite for the FREMM frigate Mohammed VI.

In April 2013, Thales and Rabat International University signed a partnership agreement in aerospace, space and cybersecurity to support technological innovation through training and research.