Sandvik invests $25 million in materials for metal 3D printers

The metal powders for additive manufacturing market continues to see increased competition in a new move from high-technology engineering group Sandvik (SAND:SS).

Sandvik has announced plans to open a specialist additive manufacturing materials production plant in Sweden. The 200 million SEK ($25 million USD) facility will focus on the mining and production of fine metal powders made from titanium and nickel, close to the company’s additive manufacturing  R&D center.

Göran Björkman, President of Sandvik Materials Technology – the division responsible for the plant, comments, “The metal powder segment and the additive manufacturing business are of increasingly strategic importance to us,”

“This investment should be viewed as the latest evidence of our commitment to an area that we believe strongly in.”

Kristian Egeberg and Mikael Schuisky of Sandvik's other addtivie manufacturing operations. Photo via Sandvik
Kristian Egeberg and Mikael Schuisky of Sandvik’s additive manufacturing R&D. Photo via Sandvik

Sandvik Osprey materials

Sandvik has had powder metallurgy operations in place now for over 35 years. Initially made for metal injection molding (MIM) processes, Sandvik’s trademarked Osprey brand of powders has since branched out to a range of materials refined for metal 3D printing.

The existing range encompasses stainless steel, nickel based and cobalt-chromium alloys, which are manufactured both in the U.K. and Sweden. The new plant will boost Sandvik’s capacity for titanium and nickel powders as a direct response to demand created by 3D printing.

Both titanium and nickel alloys are widely used in the top three “high value industries” – aerospace, healthcare and automotive. Most recently, 3D printed nickel alloy parts have been deployed in fighter jets for the Finnish Air Force, and 3D printed titanium was used to help rebuild the jaw of a patient who suffered from oral cancer.

SEM images of Sandvik's Osprey gas-atomized metal powders. Top - Stainless steel powder for MIM. Bottom - refined, more uniform stainless steel for additive manufacturing. Images via Sandvik Osprey
SEM images of Sandvik’s Osprey gas-atomized metal powders. Top – Stainless steel powder for MIM. Bottom – refined, more uniform stainless steel for additive manufacturing. Images via Sandvik Osprey

The future of metal additive manufacturing 

The new titanium and nickle powder plant is expected to officially open in 2020. It’s strategic location is expected to aid Sandvik’s other additive manufacturing operations, which include services to help customer select the correct materials and process for application, component design, post processing and quality management.

Annika Roos, Head of product area Powder at Sandvik Materials Technology, comments, “This investment is an enabler for future growth and means that we are expanding our metal powder offering to include virtually all alloy groups of relevance today. In addition, it will also support the overall additive manufacturing business at Sandvik.”

Sandvik is also a member of the European Powder Metallurgy Association that this week signed a 3D printing innovation deal with CECIMO, the body behind Europe’s additive manufacturing strategy.

In other powder metallurgy news, metal powder supplier Höganäs recently acquired gas-plasma atomization specialist Metasphere Technology, that is also based in Sweden.

For more of the latest news and releases subscribe to the most widely read newsletter in the industry here, like 3D Printing Industry on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Make your nominations for Material of the Year in the 2018 3D Printing Industry Awards now.

Featured image shows