Oerlikon Expands Its Position in Additive Manufacturing
The acquisition of Scoperta puts Oerlikon in a leading position in developing AM-tailored alloys. By combining powerful ‘big data’ analytical software with metal powder production, new alloys can be developed significantly faster than through traditional empirical methods.
Based in Pfaffikon SZ, Switzerland, the Group’s Surface Solutions segment encompasses technologies from Oerlikon Balzers and Oerlikon Metco. This enables customers to reduce time-to-market and increase productivity.
Surface Solutions provides coating technologies that significantly enhance the performance and durability of precision components and tools, as well as industrial gas turbines. The company offers market-leading equipment technology for service-driven physical vapor deposition (PVD) thin film and thermal spray coating businesses and operates a worldwide network of more than 150 sites, including 140 coating centers.
A coating can be ten times thinner than a human hair and add specific functionality or properties to materials – making them much more durable, resistant or efficient. These materials are used for aerospace, automotive, energy, manmade fibers and general industry applications.
Following the acquisition of Metco, OC Oerlikon integrated its coating business into the Surface Solutions Segment. The Segment will be led by Roland Herb, who was appointed as Segment CEO. Hans Brandle, who had been responsible for the division since 2006, decided to pursue new challenges. He will remain in an advisory role until mid-2015.
Thermal spray processes are a broad group of surface modification technologies, which are used to apply ceramic, cermet, metal, and polymeric coatings. They use solid feedstock materials (metallic powders, wires and rods) that are heated to the point of melting, and then accelerated by an energy source into the substrate surface for coating deposition.
The coatings created by the various thermal spray processes have different microstructures, varying from lamellar to fractal, with properties that are very different from those of bulk porous sintered bodies processed by powder metallurgy. This results from a combination of factors such as the spray gun, the feedstock material and the splat formation process.
Western Machine Works uses twin-wire arc metal spray technology using 420 stainless steel and can repair or modify components that are exposed to erosion, wear, corrosion or heat. Thermal sprayed coatings provide benefits such as increased wear resistance, thermal barriers, hard-chrome replacement and insulation. The five main thermal spray processes are arc, flame, plasma, HVOF and oxyfuel.
In December last year, Oerlikon accelerated its entry into Additive Manufacturing (AM) with the acquisition of Swiss metal AM producer citim GmbH. The company specialises in titanium alloy powders produced by advanced vacuum inert gas atomisation technology and serves the high-tech industry with AM equipment for small-series production, functional prototypes and test runs.
In addition, Oerlikon’s recent purchase of Scoperta puts the group in a strong position to offer its customers a full suite of AM services across the process chain, from material development through to powder production and component manufacturing, post-processing and quality inspection. The company claims this will allow industrial customers to significantly reduce product development times and costs while delivering higher performance, reliability and sustainability.
Oerlikon also has an AM-focused research partnership with TU Munich and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Moscow. The group has a global network of more than 100 laboratories and has extensive expertise in surface technologies and thermal spray applications.
In modern life, semiconductors are crucial for everything from smartphones to pacemakers and solar panels. They allow us to keep in touch and stay informed, and they can improve and prolong our lives by helping with medical procedures, such as MRIs and glucose monitors.
A semiconductor is any material that conducts electricity more than an insulator but less than a pure conductor. The characteristics of semiconductors can be altered with the introduction of impurities, a process known as doping.
Silicon is the most popular semiconductor, but other common examples include germanium and gallium arsenide. These intrinsic semiconductors have atoms with four electrons in their valence shell, which can share them with atoms of neighboring elements to create covalent bonds. The low concentration of free electrons and holes in the valence band makes them poor conductors at room temperature, but they can become good conductors when a thermal energy source, such as voltage, is applied. This makes them a useful tool for creating other semiconductor devices.