Oerlikon AM is the global integrated service provider of the Oerlikon Group (SIX: OERL), a global materials powerhouse committed to cutting edge technologies. As presented during Formnext 2018, the company has a large portfolio of surface technologies and advanced AM materials as well as a solid track record in design and engineering of industrial, metal components.
Drawing on its key technological competencies and strong financial foundation, Oerlikon is sustaining mid-term growth by executing three strategic focuses: addressing attractive growth markets, securing structural growth and expanding through targeted mergers and acquisitions. A leading global technology and engineering group, Oerlikon operates its business in two segments: Surface Solutions and Manmade Fibers, and has over 9 500 employees at 171 locations in 37 countries. In 2017, Oerlikon generated CHF 2.1 billion (~$2.14 billion) in restated sales and invested around CHF 100 million (~$101 million) in R&D.
Throughout the value chain, Oerlikon’s business covers prototyping to a sustainable, cost-effective mainstream manufacturing process. The company is also a well-respected research and development hub for academic and industrial partnerships in the EU and the U.S. in various sectors where precision and quality are fundamental, such as aerospace, automotive, medical, power generation and tooling.
Extensive metal coverage
Oerlikon AM offers AM-tested metal powders (mainly covering Nickel, Cobalt, Stainless Steel and Titanium) along with the technical support required for the successful implementation of the powders across different AM techniques, including Laser Powder Bed Fusion, Electron Beam Powder Bed Fusion and Directed Energy Deposition. This ultimately helps the customer to select the best material for specific applications.
In this field, Oerlikon recently acquired Scoperta, an American technology company with computational Rapid Alloy Development tools to create new alloys and improve existing alloys. By using Scoperta’s industry-leading “big data” analytical software to design new alloys, the Oerlikon AM R&D team can develop the next generation of new required alloys, ready to be printed. The result is that new alloys can be commercialized much more effectively, giving customers the materials for their applications far faster than through conventional empirical material development methods.
Oerlikon’s new instant quoting service
Often SMEs find it difficult to evaluate the opportunities represented by AM applications. From Rapid Prototyping to On-demand Manufacturing, Oerlikon Additive Manufacturing offers a platform to customers looking for a fast and standard option to order parts online. Further, the platform is user friendly because as users only need to create an account and upload a CAD-file to get started.
The key partnerships of 2018
2018 was a key year for alliances for Oerlikon, the most impressive of which include partnerships with Airbus, Lufthansa Technik and RUAG.
In November, the company received “Qualified Supplier” status from Airbus for both its customer centers in the United Kingdom and France for copper alloy substrate coatings using BALINIT C. Both locations are already certified as qualified suppliers of coatings on steel, titanium and Inconel substrates.
BALINIT C is a coating applied to aerospace components made of steel, titanium and various alloys that helps reduce surface fatigue, withstand wear and high loads, while being lightweight and exhibiting low-friction. The technical qualification of BALINIT C, as a non-hazardous and REACH-conforming option to hard chrome plating, completes the Airbus Industrial Qualification Process for both Oerlikon Balzers customer centers in Great Britain and France.
Furthermore, Oerlikon Balzers’ customer centers in Milton Keynes (UK), Ferrière-en-Brie (France), Guelph (Canada) and Niedercorn (Luxembourg) are all Nadcap-accredited and provide world-class coating solutions and services to the aerospace industry. Nadcap, National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program, is a worldwide industry-controlled global cooperation program, designed to achieve a cost-effective consensus approach to special processes and products and to provide continuous improvement within the aerospace industry.
Another relevant partnership, announced last July, is between Oerlikon and Lufthansa Technik who will integrate AM into the maintenance and repair of civil aircrafts. The related Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) included the provision of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for civil aircraft, engines and components to establish robust and repeatable processes for Additive Manufacturing in the aircraft MRO industry. For Oerlikon it represented an important step toward the industrialization of AM in the aircraft industry, enabling it to take advantage of potential flexibility and cost savings in manufacturing, procurement, warehousing and supply chain management.
Under the MoU, the partners also agreed that they will build up representative component geometrics which will be manufactured on identical AM systems at three global locations: Oerlikon AM Charlotte, North Carolina in the U.S., Oerlikon AM Barleben in Germany and Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg, Germany with the same process parameters and powder specifications as to guarantee process repeatability.
Also in July, Oerlikon and RUAG Space, a division of Switzerland-based Group RUAG, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The partnership, made during the Farnborough International Airshow, aims to qualify and accelerate the series production of metal additively manufactured space components and to qualify a bracket to be installed on a payload fairing. A new optimized design for additive manufacturing will reduce the part cost by 25% and decrease part weight by more than 50%, while doubling the stiffness of the bracket. In the agreement both companies stated that they intend to co-develop processes and standards for the metal AM of space components, with the intention to establish standards suitable for the European space community to adopt. In addition, the partnership will explore the refinement of existing alloys for the Additive Manufacturing process and the development of new metallic materials to unlock future design opportunities.