Thyssenkrupp has opened TechCenter Additive Manufacturing in Germany, starting to make customised products from metals and plastics in a single digital process.
At the TechCenter near the company’s headquarters in Essen, Germany, the entire design and additive manufacturing process is handled digitally.
This approach offers numerous advantages not only for the value and supply chain but also for customers and the environment.
Michael Ridder, head of external & internal communications at thyssenkrupp, said to The Manufacturer: “We see the TechCenter as part of our core business.”
The company aims to use its existing experience and research partnerships to unlock the potential of 3D printing for customers within a short space of time.
Key markets such as engineering, aerospace, naval shipbuilding and automotive will benefit particularly from this technology. Internal projects are already underway.
Ridder explained: “The centre should help us mainly to meet the needs of our existing clients whose demands and expectations we know exactly. At the moment, we only manufacture parts we can use within our Group, these are parts for shipbuilding, plant manufacturing. Besides we built a prototype for lift manufacturers.
“Our USP is that we not only deliver the additive manufactured part itself but as well try to implement a high level of functionality into the part. Within our TechCenter we resort to the excellent knowledge of the engineers who are working for our company.
“So far, we are not going into mass production with the components, but our aim is to produce bigger batch sizes in the nearest future. “
3D printing can already be used to manufacture more complex structures that are stronger yet lighter than comparable parts produced by traditional methods.
Ridder added: “For example, we built a valve block for a company in the shipbuilding sector. So far, this valve block was a box with various valves, weighing about 17 kg.
“In terms of the functionality, we rebuilt this block and we 3D printed parts of it. The result is that the same valve block now weighs 3.5 kg.”
An interdisciplinary additive manufacturing project group set up at thyssenkrupp in early 2015 has identified potential applications and is already in the process of obtaining patents for several products to be made by 3D printing.