While many companies utilize 3D printing technology at the office, that usage may be limited to one or two printers on the shop floor. But these days, we are hearing about a lot of companies opening up centers that are entirely dedicated to 3D printing. New York-based Alcoa opened a $60 million 3D printing metal powder production facility in Pittsburgh, and French foundry and machining company VHM Fonderie opened a 3D printing center right before Christmas. Materialise opened its 3D Printing Center of Excellency in Malaysia, which focuses on DLP 3D printing, while BAE Systems and Emerson both opened additive manufacturing and virtual reality centers around the same time last month. GE Additive announced earlier this week that it would be opening a new customer experience center in Germany, and German industrial group Thyssenkrupp, which produces submarines and elevators, plans to open a 3D printing center of its own later this year.
The announcement was made at this week’s Hannover Messe industrial fair. The 3D printing center will be used to manufacture products for Thyssenkrupp’s customers.
Thyssenkrupp, a multinational conglomerate divided into 670 worldwide subsidiaries, is one of the largest steel producers in the world, and also supplies a quarter of a million customers around the world with thousands of tons of metal and plastic products and supply-chain management services. It operates in 80 countries, and works with a range of varying industries, from aerospace to automotive and chemicals. Two separate steel firms, Thyssen and Krupp, merged together in 1999, and the conglomerate that was born from this partnership, Thyssenkrupp, has worked hard to claw its way to the top, as one of the largest engineering companies in the world.
Hans-Josef Hoss, a member of the executive board of the Thyssenkrupp Materials Services division, made the announcement at a Hannover Messe event.
“We have decided to establish our own 3D printing centre. We have invested already into the machines. We have invested already in the people – they are there. They are already producing. We start from the engineering side and deliver the final product with all aftersales and related services,” Hoss explained.
While Hoss gave very few other details, he did say that Thyssenkrupp’s 3D printing center will be inaugurated in September, and that it will use the latest 3D printing technology to produce both metal and plastic parts for its customers. However, he did not mention exactly what technology would be in the 3D printing facility, or where the center will be located.
Thyssenkrupp’s increased interest in 3D printing makes sense: according to a Wohlers Associates report, sales of 3D technology are expected to hit $26.5 billion by the year 2021. As both the technology, and the pressure for custom manufacturing, elevates, more and more large industrial firms are adding additive manufacturing technology to their workflows and manufacturing floors. Discuss in the Thyssenkrupp forum at 3DPB.com.Reuters]