It’s no surprise anymore that the fastest-growing sector in additive manufacturing revolves around metals. 3D printed metal offers incredible opportunity and benefits from waste and cost reduction to lightweight and complex structures that simply are not possible via traditional subtractive manufacturing methods. Metal AM technology is taking over, with new 3D printers and new materials being introduced with increasing frequency around the world — and now we are seeing that global reach extend again as Switzerland-based Oerlikon announces its new advanced materials manufacturing facility to be built in Michigan.
Oerlikon is a truly global organization, with a footprint extending to 37 countries with more than 13,500 employees and more than 170 locations, seeking to become “a global powerhouse in surface solutions, advanced materials and materials processing” — and this century-old enterprise is turning its attention further toward additive technologies. With the new plant, set for construction in Plymouth Township, Michigan, Oerlikon seeks to “accelerate the industrialization of additive manufacturing,” noting that “the new facility will extend and strengthen Oerlikon’s materials capabilities in order to respond to the increasing demand for advanced and new materials for industrial applications.”
“We intend to take a leading position in the industrialization of additive manufacturing and are convinced that the facility in Plymouth Township will ignite this ambition. This investment marks an important step in our plans to grow our strong presence in North America, and is a key milestone for us to become a leading service provider for the fast-expanding additive manufacturing market,” explained Dr. Roland Fischer, CEO of the Oerlikon Group. “I would like to thank the Michigan Business Development Program for their support, and we look forward to becoming part of this community.”
Materials represent an obvious key to the realization of metal additive manufacturing technology — advanced materials are necessary to the continuation of the fast growth this sector is seeing and anticipating. Oerlikon’s new facility, expected to be operational by year-end 2017, is set to produce advanced titanium alloys and other metals. The company notes that the facility’s R&D lab will additionally explore developments of alloys of titanium, nickel, copper, iron, cobalt, and other metals, and will engage in joint R&D projects as well as customized small-batch powder production.
“Additive manufacturing has led to increased interest in the development of metals and alloys. By developing innovations that enhance our knowledge of the relationships between powder characteristics and the resulting component quality, we have been able to lead, rather than follow, the market trend towards process-specific powders,” says Dr. Dieter Sporer, AM Industry Segment Manager at Oerlikon Metco.
- Cobalt-based alloys
- Nickel-based alloys and superalloys
- Non-hardenable stainless steels
- High-strength stainless steels
The new facility, which will complement an existing Oerlikon Metco site in Troy, Michigan, will have a staff of approximately 70. With a first phase investment of $50 million, the Plymouth Township facility illustrates the confidence Oerlikon has in additive manufacturing as playing a key role in the next industrial revolution. Oerlikon Metco will be attending formnext in Frankfurt next week, and will be located at Hall 3.1 / Booth No. C65. Discuss in the Oerlikon forum at 3DPB.com.[Images: Oerlikon]