Swiss technology company Oerlikon (SWX:OERL) are strengthening their efforts in metal additive manufacturing through two research partnerships with international institutions. One agreement is signed with the Technical University of Munich in Germany, and the other is with the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) in Russia.

Making metals for additive manufacturing

Oerlikon have a specialist materials manufacturing service for 3D printable metal powders under the name MetcoAdd. The current portfolio consists of alloys, superalloys and metal in cobalt, nickel, and stainless steel.

MetcoAdd materials are used to make components for key areas in the manufacturing industry, such as the German MTU Aero Engines AG (ETR:MTX) who make the engines for civil and military aircraft.

A 3D printed MetcoAdd nickel part for MTU Aero Engines AG Photo via Oerlikon

A 3D printed MetcoAdd nickel part for MTU Aero Engines AG Photo via Oerlikon

In the partnership with the Technical University of Munich, Oerlikon are building upon their German base for additive manufacturing having also acquired the 3D printing bureau Citim in the Börde district of the country.

In Russia, Oerlikon have two corporate offices in Moscow, now strengthened by the Skoltech partnership.

Dr. Michael Süss, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Oerlikon, comments,

We need to exploit this potential to sustain the competitiveness of innovation-driven industrial regions such as Germany. These collaborations are important parts of our commitment to leading industrial research.

Federal funded CAD research and partnership with MIT

Priority research areas at Skoltech cover 7 main areas of study that inform the additive manufacturing industry: photonics (the study of light), oil & gas, materials, energy, biomedicine, ICT and space.

In the area of Materials, Structures and Advanced Manufacturing in particular, Skoltech have received federal funding to complete a 6-year-long project for “Development of an integrated system of computer-aided design and engineering for the additive production of light and reliable composite structures for key high-tech industries”, ending in 2020.

As of 2016, Skoltech also offer joint research programs with MIT.

Aerospace partners and nearing 150 years of experience

The Technical University of Munich was founded in 1868, and has an existing research partnership with Oerlikon’s aero engine partner MTU. The Technical Univeristy’s projects in aero and astro -nautics operate out of the MTU Center of Competence (CoC) for the Design and Production of Modern Aero Engines.

Making aero engines at MTU. Photo via MTU Aero Engines

Making aero engines at MTU. Photo via MTU Aero Engines

There are also 44 specialist groups and institutions within the university’s department of mechanical engineering that could each have an impact on the partnership with Oerlikon. These groups cover everything from biomechanics to non-destructive testing of parts.

Dr. Roland Fischer, CEO of Oerlikon, adds,

These partnerships mark important milestones in our efforts to take a leading position in additive manufacturing, as we are seeing a growing demand for advanced components that are lighter, with embedded functionality and can benefit from the increased design freedom of AM.

In America, Oerlikon are also a partner in the America Makes program uniting commercial enterprises and research institutions such as the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to advance the area of additive manufacturing.

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Featured image shows Oerlikon’s Surface Solutions Segment used in jet engines. Photo via GroupOerlikon on Facebook

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