Additive manufacturing (AM), the process of making 3D objects from digital models by depositing layers upon layers of metal or other material, will change how products will be designed, manufactured and distributed in the future. In 2016, the metal-based AM market is valued at approximately CHF 393 million and is estimated to reach CHF 1 976 million by 2021 – a five-year CAGR of 38 %.
AM stands before a breakthrough in industrialization as it delivers many advantages over traditional manufacturing, such as permitting complex designs and yielding components with higher performance and durability. AM also reduces product development time, enables rapid response to changing customer needs, raises manufacturing productivity and reduces waste. Given its significant benefits, Oerlikon expects to see demand for AM in aerospace, due to weight and safety benefits; medical devices, especially implants; power generation, driven by capacity investments; high-end automotive; and in a slowly recovering oil & gas market.
Oerlikon is a market leader with deep expertise in advanced materials, post processing surface solutions and engineering competencies. Combined with its global service network and strong customer relations in the above-mentioned industries, Oerlikon is well positioned to drive the industrialization of AM as an integrated service provider. In 2016, Oerlikon acquired citim to complement its additive production capabilities in Europe and the USA. It is also building a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Michigan, USA, to produce advanced materials also for AM applications. In addition, Oerlikon is conducting an R&D project for a US energy company using AM technology in industrial gas turbine applications, and has launched a new thermal spray system platform that enables automated powder-fed AM and coating processes. Oerlikon joined America Makes and partnered with the Shanghai Additive Manufacturing Association to advance this technology and make it part of mainstream manufacturing.