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  • Writer's pictureTom Vroemen

This is what we do.

Robots robotting
ASLM Robots in TETMET's lab in Paris

At TETMET we are all about creating Lattice Structures and Architectured Materials. These are of great value to the engineering world and can contribute greatly to economics of manufacturing and sustainability. On top of that, we can influence their behaviour, which can push engineering boundaries. 

As such, we are helping Airbus Defence and SpacePERI and ArianeGroup already today in making the parts of the future.

This is quite abstract so I will dedicate this post to the why and how.

Contrary to solids, Lattice Structures are the shapes you see in cranes, bridges, expo hall roofs, etc. A great example of a lattice structure is the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

These structures can be applied on many scales.

On micro scale, throughout continuous volumes they are called Architectured Materials. Such as what is more and more commonly found in high-performance shoe soles or artificial bones.

artificial hip bone and Eiffel Tower
Examples of Architectured Materials and Lattice Structures in an artificial hip bone and the Eiffel Tower

There is an enormous pull from industry to use materials in a smarter way and this is a great way to do so. Initially to make things lighter, cheaper and reduce the use of resources, but also to unlock their special material properties that for instance allow designable thermal tuning or vibrations filtering, etc.

Academics have therefore studied these opportunities for years, such as our Chief Scientific Officer Justin Dirrenberger with his research group at Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, mostly using simulation and small sample testing.

However, there has been no method of efficiently producing them at scale, as manual assembly, 3d-printing and machining have proven to be inefficient for this.

This is why we came up with ASLM.

Adaptive Spatial Lattice Manufacturing is what we call the process that allows the efficient creation of Lattice Structures at any scale. Based on our patent filed in January 2022, this method makes use of robotics, fibre lasers and beam steering by controlling these technologies through Computer Vision and Machine Learning. Watch this video to see this at work at low speed:

With the science of Lattice Structures and Architectured Materials as a guidance, and with ASLM at the heart of our process, we aim to enable industries to make large objects in large amounts while taking advantage of the efficiency of Lattice Structures

Initially at the scale of vehicle parts, furniture or construction materials...

Then at the size of vehicles...

Then at the size of your house...

And ultimately even in space, or on Mars.

I gathered a team of brilliant people to get it done.

With mechatronics at μm scale, attached to robotics at multi-meter scale, we are exposed to all the boundaries of engineering. Basically, we are teaching our machine-learning stack to keep an eye on the process on many levels, and constantly make little adjustments everywhere we can't predict what things will be like or where inaccuracies in the mechatronics let us down.

Examples of how machine vision recognises the differences between expectations from a model and reality

Pierre Lapouge, who heads our R&D allows the robotics and laser-beams to run quality operations in standardisable ways. These 'recipes' along with vision data collected from ASLM machines in various operations are fed to the ML-stack which is being developed under CTO 🪩 Peter Evers.

We steadily progress towards faster and faster processes, by assessing all build operations at a granular level. This allows us to focus our attention on the process points where quality and speed matter most.

Process R&D's build assessment dashboard

In Process R&D, our general challenge is to advance the Technological Readiness Level as quickly as possible, to allow the company to be able to generate the added value for industry that generates revenue. This applies to the entire toolchain, which spans from the uploading of a solid digital 3D model through the fully automated operation of the robotics and lasers.

On top of that a materials R&D agenda allows us to apply our technology to a broad range of materials, starting with cheap steel or aluminum to titanium, polymers, glass, etc. Even shape-memory metals that allow solid-state moving structures are planned.

A step change for industry is hard to implement.

Meanwhile a lot can be done on the design side of things. Launching customers have a hunch from the science that their components can be lighter, cheaper and more sustainable. However product engineers are usually not equipped with the knowledge on how to design for lattices. This means that we have to dive a little bit deeper into the value chain to make sure our customers can actually make use of the tech.

Enter Rachel Azulay, who spearheads our brand-new Applications Engineering division. Here we work together with our customers to create drop-in replacements for their old products or parts, allowing us to make real comparisons to assess improvements and make sure we can interface with classical engineering.

A TETMET Panel, an alternative to honeycomb panel, in FEA analysis at Applications Engineering

This is also where the rocket science of the topology design comes in. The sky is the limit here. We can influence thermal properties, do vibrations filtering, it is even possible to make ships stealth by using a designed cell topology in the Lattice Structure.

This allows us to make big steps with our launching customers while we are not fully ready on the process R&D side. As soon as we can start producing real parts at scale, we can make sure they are well designed for purpose and unlock the maximum added value that these structures can bring.

Partnerships for the future of making things.

Big innovations never come from a single company alone. They require collaboration spanning the new and the established. Our tech has the biggest impact on large scale industry. In highly innovation driven industries such as NewSpace, but also in risk-sensitive industries like construction.

It is therefore important to manage close touch between the pace of the startup and the solidity of the industrial corporate. Here, Nicolas Chaignet and Toon Beljaars create strong relationships based on efficient communication and compliance with industry standards and requirements.

This also requires substantial foresight from our early partners. Companies like PERI and MaiaSpace have been pivotal because of the trust they have provided in being the very first to try a new technology. And this is extremely important for deeptech to succeed.

And this is why, even as a young and R&D intensive company, we have to operate in the middle of the industrial playing field. Not hidden away in suburban lab environments or at academic conferences, but participating in industry associations and by making accessible demonstrations. Our lab, deliberately setup in an office environment is the biggest demonstrator of the lightness and cleanness of our technology.

ASLM can make an enormous change. This is what we do. Keep an eye on us and do reach out.

La Grande Arche, the location of TETMET's offices and lab


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