WORK has begun on a new multi-million pound powder metals development facility in Teesside.

Liberty, part of the GFG Alliance of industrial companies, has started construction of the facility that will expand the group’s reach in specialist metals and, ultimately, into the emerging market for materials for 3D printing.

Representatives of Liberty Power Metals, Atomising Systems Ltd (ASL) and Stockton-based K-Home International joined the Mayor of the Tees Valley, Ben Houchen, to celebrate the milestone at the Materials Processing Institute campus where the facility will be based.

An initial £10m is being invested to set up the Liberty Powder Metals business including a state-of-the-art vacuum induction inert gas atomiser at its core.

The facility is designed to achieve the highest-quality stainless steel and superalloy powders, helping Liberty to enhance its status in a global market estimated to be worth £8bn a year.

Alongside the atomiser, there are plans to install a range of sieving, blending, packaging and analytical equipment.

The atomiser will allow Liberty to develop a new generation of powdered steels that can overcome the traditional barriers to 3D printing.

This will enhance Liberty’s position in the supply chain for compnents used in sectors such as aerospace, automotive, energy and specialist industrial equipment.

General manager for Liberty Powder Metals, Dr Simon Pike, said: “We are grateful to our partners for the work they have done to reach this stage. "Finance from Tees Valley Combined Authority has been critical in making the project a reality and I look forward to continuing all our partnerships to make Teesside a global-leading centre of expertise for powder metal production.”

Mayor Houchen said: “The start of construction of Liberty Powder Metals new Teesside facility is a significant milestone in a project that will put our region at the forefront of a revolutionary new industry.

“We invested £4.6 million in this ground-breaking project because we could see just how important the high-grade metal powders Liberty will produce will be.

"By investing in new technologies, we’re staying ahead of the curve and creating the jobs for future industries."