Airbus and LM Industries form 3D printing digital mobility startup Neorizon

International aerospace giant Airbus, and San Francisco-based digital OEM LM Industries (LMI), parent company of Local Motors and Launch Forth, have partnered to form Neorizon, a digital mobility startup. 

The new collaborative venture between the two firms aims to provide innovative products with a focus on autonomous mobility. Both firms will bring their respective expertise in digital manufacturing, 3D printing and co-creation to create new mobility solutions for rapidly changing urban environments. 

Neorizon will be headquartered at Airbus’ Ludwig-Bölkow-Campus near Munich, Germany, where a microfactory will be built for the company’s manufacturing operations as well. 

“Every local and state government is faced with challenges such as rapid urbanization and congestion, inefficient and pollutive transport, and ever-changing and evolving technology,” explained Jay Rogers, CEO and founder of LM Industries. 

“Current transport infrastructure and existing mass manufacturing are too inflexible and capital intense to service evolving technology trends and changing consumer demands.”

Olli 2.0, a 3D printed connected electric autonomous shuttle. Photo via Local Motors.
Olli 2.0, a 3D printed connected electric autonomous shuttle. Photo via Local Motors.

3D printing at LM Industries and Airbus

Neorizon will pool together the resources, technological innovations and expertise of Airbus and LM Industries in order to “answer the globe’s most pressing mobility and manufacturing concerns.” The intention is to allow Neorizon employees to create unique mobility solutions utilizing the advanced capabilities of both companies, like LMI’s open, AV shuttle platform and Airbus’ positioning system for drones. Both also have experience employing 3D printing and other advanced manufacturing solutions to create their products. 

LM Industries formed in 2018 when Local Motors, an Arizona-based automotive OEM, and its spinout co-creation platform Launch Forth restructured underneath the new parent company. Local Motors is known for developing 3D printed autonomous electric vehicles, like the Olli shuttle and Strati car. The Launch Forth platform helped to create the 3D printed Olli bus, as well as other vehicles featuring additive manufactured parts, like FATHOM’s Modular Logistics Vehicle (MLV) for the United States Marine Corps (USMC). 

Airbus also has an extensive history in using additive manufacturing both for prototyping and end-use parts aboard its vehicles. In 2016 it was revealed that the company had over 1000 3D printed parts in service on the Airbus A350 XWB aircraft. Since then, Airbus has continued to ramp up its 3D printing operations. In February 2019 Swiss OEM Liebherr-Aerospace was announced as a new supplier of serial produced 3D printed parts for the Airbus A350 XWB. The company recently partnered with Santa Fe-based additive manufacturing software developer Sigma Labs to help qualify metal 3D printing for aerospace as well. 

“We’ve been working with LM Industries’ team at Local Motors since early 2016 when we realized the unique value proposition surrounding direct digital manufacturing and open-source design,” says Peter Weckesser, Digital Transformation Officer of Airbus Defence and Space. 

“Both parties recognized the commercial opportunities for pooling resources and expertise, specifically combining LM Industries’ digital manufacturing with Airbus’ materials expertise, metal 3D printing and additive manufacturing, and prototyping and serial production capabilities.”

An Airbus XWB A350-1000 aircraft. Photo by S. Ramadier, Airbus
An Airbus XWB A350-1000 aircraft. Photo by S. Ramadier, Airbus

Turning to micro manufacturing for efficient product iteration

Neorizon’s headquarters at the Ludwig-Bölkow-Campus will also see it located in conjunction with an Innovation Campus, including a new Technical University of Munich Campus. The new microfactory is expected to introduce between 150 and 200 jobs, as well as design and engineering apprenticeship opportunities. It is designed to “build products at unprecedented speeds through the combination of co-creation and cutting-edge technology.” The microfactory will be used to iterate products on a regular basis in order to continuously meet the needs and preferences of the customer. 

Benjamin Queisser has been appointed as the CEO of Neorizon. He is a senior executive with international business experience across various industries including automotive, energy, medical devices, and engineering solutions. Queisser is joined by Albert Ishak, CFO, previously Financial Controller within the Airbus A400M program. 

“Together with our employees, shareholders, and leading mobility and innovation companies in Germany and abroad, we will address local mobility issues by rapidly producing concepts, prototypes, products, and solutions, in collaboration with the local technological ecosystem,” stated Benjamin Queisser, Neorizon CEO.

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Featured image shows the Airbus Skyways drone lifting off. Photo via Wilhelmsen.

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