2017 has been the year of partnerships for Oerlikon. The Swiss company has been pursuing additive manufacturing with new intensity over the past six months or so, opening a new advanced materials manufacturing facility towards the end of 2016 and forming 3D printing research partnerships earlier this year. This week, Oerlikon has been busy attending the International Paris Air Show, and while there, the company had a big announcement: it’s now partnering with GE Additive.

The two companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at accelerating the industrialization of additive manufacturing. This news, of course, comes only a day after GE Additive announced that it will be releasing its own metal 3D printer, the massive ATLAS, set to be the largest laser-powder additive manufacturing system in the world. It was a long-awaited announcement, and we can’t help but wonder if Oerlikon may now get to be one of the first to try the machine out. Under the terms of the five-year agreement, GE Additive, along with its affiliates Concept Laser and Arcam, will supply additive manufacturing machines and services to Oerlikon, while Oerlikon will become a preferred AM component manufacturer and materials supplier to GE Additive and its affiliates.

In addition, the companies will work together on research and development into additive manufacturing machines and materials.

Dr. Roland Fischer [Image: Oerlikon]

“Developing innovative technology is key to our growth strategy and a distinct advantage Oerlikon brings to customers,” said Dr. Roland Fischer, CEO of the Oerlikon Group. “Partnering with GE Additive, Concept Laser and Arcam AB on innovative AM materials and machines will strengthen both companies’ positions in additive manufacturing, and allows us to meet the growing demand for additive components, materials and services in many industries.”

GE Additive has already announced that it will be working with other companies on materials development; when 3DPrint.com spoke with GE’s Dr. Kirk Rogers a few weeks ago, he commented that he’d like to see the company follow an open materials development model similar to that being used by HP. It’s unclear, at this point, if GE Additive will actually go down that road to the extent that HP has, but the announcement of a research and development collaboration immediately after the announcement of the new 3D printer points to a definite openness towards working with others in the industry.

Oerlikon is a smart choice of a partner, as well, as it’s already a leader in advanced materials and will only strengthen its capabilities with the new facility in Michigan. As additive manufacturing shifts from a strictly prototyping to a production technology, many companies are turning their attention to the development of advanced materials in order to speed that shift.

“GE Additive and Oerlikon both understand the transformative power of additive manufacturing,” said Mohammad Ehteshami, Vice President and General Manager of GE Additive. “As the adoption rate of AM grows rapidly, it is through strategic partnerships that we can push forward the uptake of AM in industries, and we’re proud to partner with Oerlikon.”

Mohammad Ehteshami at Materialise World Summit in April [Image: Sarah Goehrke]

GE Additive’s announcement of the ATLAS 3D printer may have been the biggest piece of news the company has released since the formation of the additive division itself in 2016. Now that the company is officially in the 3D printer market, it’s not surprising that collaborations such as this one are already in the works. We’re seeing plenty of companies unite with the goal of driving the industrialization of 3D printing, and this latest may very well be the first of many for GE Additive as it works toward bringing the ATLAS to market. Discuss in the Oerlikon GE forum at 3DPB.com.

 

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