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Swiss Giant Oerlikon expands AM R&D and production capacity in the US

After acquiring the large German AM service citim at the end of 2016, the Swiss manufacturing giant Oerlikon is expanding its global additive manufacturing (AM) business with a state-of-the-art R&D and production facility for additively manufactured advanced components in the Charlotte metro area in North Carolina, USA. Oerlikon will invest around CHF 55 million in this facility in 2017 and 2018, and expects to create over 100 new jobs at this site over the longer term.

As part of Oerlikon’s strategy to become a global powerhouse in surface solutions and advanced materials, the Group has identified additional growth areas such as additive manufacturing, which leverages its strong materials heritage, service reputation, access to markets, applications across industries and core competence in intelligently engineering and processing advanced materials and surface technologies.

Oerlikon expects the demand for additively manufactured metal components to increase rapidly in the coming years, making it one of the key growth areas in next-generation manufacturing technologies. Additive manufacturing is becoming increasingly suitable for the series production of advanced components. It is a technology that allows for the customization of products, the decentralization of production, change in design methodology and efficiency in material usage. The transformational impact of AM is likely to redefine some of the more conventional manufacturing value chains.

Following the acquisition of the AM production company, citim, in Germany, Oerlikon is extending its AM competence and investing in the construction of a new facility in Charlotte. The investment is an important step for Oerlikon in lowering the barriers to a wider adoption of AM by industrial customers, who can leverage Oerlikon’s AM capabilities, from the atomization of metal powders to AM production and the post processing of components. The addition of the new site in Charlotte brings Oerlikon’s AM network to four locations globally. The Charlotte site complements citim’s sites in Barleben (Magdeburg), Germany, and Atlanta, Georgia, USA, and the new production facility for advanced metal powders for additive manufacturing and advanced coatings in Plymouth Township, Michigan, USA.

The new facility in Charlotte will offer US industrial customers a single source for a full suite of integrated services for end-to-end advanced component manufacturing – from R&D, design, applications engineering and series production to post processing. The Charlotte region is home to a rapidly growing number of global industrial, aerospace, and automotive firms. The Charlotte site will be fully operational in 2018. However, Oerlikon will already begin its AM business activities in Charlotte from the beginning of 2017 at an interim facility.

Dr. Roland Fischer, CEO of the Oerlikon Group, said: “Innovation is a strategic driver of growth at Oerlikon. We consistently work at strengthening our innovation power and staying at the forefront in developing new technologies in our fields. As we strategically transform to become a powerhouse in surface solutions and advanced materials, we are investing in high growth potential businesses such as additive manufacturing. Charlotte is an important step in our plans to grow our additive manufacturing business and our investment in key technology areas. The investment underlines our intention to become a leading independent global partner in the industrialization of additive manufacturing. I would like to thank our economic development partners in North Carolina and the Charlotte region for their support in our investment.”

Oerlikon is a leading global technology Group, with a clear strategy of becoming a global powerhouse in surface solutions, advanced materials and materials processing. The Group is committed to investing in value-bringing technologies that provide customers with lighter, more durable materials that are able to increase performance, improve efficiency and reduce the use of scarce resources. A Swiss company with over 100 years of tradition, Oerlikon has a global footprint of over 13 500 employees at more than 170 locations in 37 countries and sales of CHF 2.7 billion in 2015. The company invested CHF 103 million in R&D in 2015 and has over 1 350 specialists developing innovative and customer-oriented products and services.

Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as both a technology journalist and communications consultant. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he received his undergraduate degree. Specializing in covering the AM industry, he founded London-based 3D Printing Business Media Ltd. (now 3dpbm) which operates in marketing, editorial and market analysys&consultancy services for the additive manufacturing industry. 3dpbm publishes 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies related to 3DP, as well as several editorial websites, including 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore. Since 2016 he is also a Senior Analyst for leading US-based firm SmarTech Analysis focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets.

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