Kartik Rao, Head of Marketing
As a game changer in product manufacturing, the additive manufacturing technology has traversed a long way. Kartik Rao, Head of Marketing, Oerlikon AM [SIX:OERL], observes that AM is no longer limited to prototyping applications, but is becoming an integral part of a sustainable approach to manufacturing. “While AM enhances manufacturing capabilities, there exists barriers such as lack of adequate knowledge on AM and reliance on internal R&D teams for identifying components that can be constructed utilizing AM. To combat these challenges, manufacturers require a significant amount of investment involving time and resources,” says Rao. At the forefront of AM industrialization, Oerlikon AM offers customized AM solutions for the industrial design and engineering of metal-based components along with a global service network with 24/7 support that helps carry out efficient production without delay. Oerlikon AM is focused on enabling AM in series production through its integrated value chain starting with metal powders over applications engineering, design, material selection, component production, and post-processing. “We help companies reduce time-to-market, shorten supply chains, and increase the performance of AM products across multiple industries. This effectively reduces the client’s investment required to manage production and the risks associated with product development,” states Rao.
Embracing AM in Traditional Manufacturing
Rao broadly categorizes AM in terms of materials, design engineering, and production. Currently, there is a growing trend for alloys tailored to AM rather than repurposed forging and casting alloys. When it comes to production, the cost and time have reduced significantly owing to fast processing printers. With the recent acquisition of Scoperta, an innovative developer of advanced materials via computational software, Oerlikon has access to proprietary process technology to identify disruptive material solutions. This facilitates the development of tailored alloys for AM with significantly reduced development time and costs. “We are able to develop the alloy and scale it up for production,” says Rao. While Oerlikon AM does not develop its own 3D printers, it collaborates with AM machine manufacturers to build solutions that are a best fit for specific AM production projects.
We help reduce time to market, shorten supply chains, and increase performance of AM products across multiple industries
With a strong commitment to R&D, Oerlikon AM offers quality control capability to knit every step of the value chain together to produce components ready for final assembly.
Leveraging over eight decades of industrial heritage, which includes four decades of materials expertise, Oerlikon enables customers to embrace AM to its maximum benefits. “Often, customers approach us with surface-level knowledge about AM. We introduce them to the nitty-gritty of this technology by working closely with their internal workforce,” says Rao. He explains that for most companies, the lack of proficiency in AM stems from their engineering teams that have been trained in traditional manufacturing methods. The company helps in training client’s workforce to redesign their existing business models as per AM requirements.
Oerlikon AM’s client engagement involves R&D, material supply, design, engineering, and manufacturing of AM components. The company handles the end-to-end AM manufacturing in-house, helping clients develop their first prototype and then transition to product development. “Our deep materials know-how enables us to move from surface coatings to component manufacturing. Working closely with clients, we understand how every element of the value chain and the costs associated with it fit together. We are also able to assess the latest technology in the market and deploy them for our customers,” says Rao.
Aiding Production—From Design to Development
Oerlikon AM caters to various industries, including aerospace, automotive, power generation, medical, and tooling.
The aerospace industry which is heavily focused on safety and reliability often lacks the base set of materials data to design components. Stepping up to the challenge, Oerlikon AM works with aircraft manufacturers to develop material data that Rao calls a breakthrough step for the industry. “For instance, we can manufacture nickel-based super alloys used in aircraft, test them, and generate the required mechanical data that helps their engineers redesign parts and reduce costs.” What is more, Oerlikon AM can preserve the material specification leading to bulk amounts of material property dataset which can be used later to redesign various components. “Clients can begin qualifying part after part; in effect, we reduce the risk of introducing AM by carrying out the fundamental and essential work on material properties,” states Rao.
Similarly, Oerlikon AM holds deep experience in solving the challenges of the tooling industry, where clients require materials that exhibit certain properties like corrosion resistance to build durable molds. Oerlikon AM assists the min designing materials as well as molds to make it printable and long-lasting. “We can help clients design the molds with certain specifications and also manufacture it in-house as we have the necessary tools to produce hard steels.”
Elaborating the company’s valued partnerships, Rao says, “We believe in building partnerships with end users and original equipment manufacturers to strengthen our value proposition in the AM space.” For instance, Oerlikon AM has collaborated with GE Additive [NYSE:GE] along with Technical University of Munich and Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology to accelerate the industrialization of AM and grow its market presence. From a geographical standpoint, Oerlikon AM continues to evolve and remain as a market-leading provider of AM technologies and services in U.S. and Europe and plans to extend its footprint in Asia. The company also held the Munich Technology Conference in 2017, where more than 600 industry experts and over 30 leading speakers from academia, associations, industry, and politics met to chart the future course of AM. “Working in collaboration with companies, we want to expand our industrial knowledge to open up new avenues in the growing field of AM,” he concludes.