In April 2023, Outokumpu commissioned the new inert gas atomization plant for the production of high-quality metal powder after around two years of planning and construction – the plant has now been officially inaugurated. North Rhine-Westphalia’s Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst and around 160 other guests attended the inauguration event.
NRW Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst: “Outokumpu thinks industry and climate protection together and invests in its own future and the future of the steel industry. The company uses the opportunities of the circular economy to make steel production more efficient and resource-saving while at the same time maintaining and expanding good jobs. The use of additive manufacturing in industry is promising and a key technology for North Rhine-Westphalia as an industrial location, also to ensure our global competitiveness. Germany must remain the technology leader here.”
Traditional location Krefeld
The Krefeld production site has a long tradition. Steel has been manufactured here for more than 120 years. A lot has changed since these beginnings – in Krefeld as well as in the entire industry. In order to prepare the Krefeld site for the future, Outokumpu has made numerous investments in the modernization of production facilities and infrastructure and initiated new projects in recent years. The new metal powder production is an important milestone for the expansion of our product portfolio and the expansion of our customer base into new areas.
“We are delighted to be starting up a completely new production unit here in Krefeld after a long time,” says Thomas Anstots, Head of Business Line Advanced Materials at Outokumpu. “The new facility is an important building block for the future-oriented orientation of this site and the first step towards our long-term goal: to support our customers’ journeys with expertise, development of new sustainable materials, flexibility and adaptation for different powder metallurgy technologies.”
Outokumpu is not only breaking new ground from a technological point of view. The organization of the new business area is also innovative. The team is structured like a start-up company, in which the agile work organization gives all employees more responsibility and control over the entire production process – from raw material procurement to production organization to delivery to the customer. In Krefeld, Outokumpu also has a testing laboratory specially set up for metal powder production, which enables customer-specific adjustments to the powder products and needs-based advice.
Sustainability through recycling
In addition, as a large recycling unit, the new facility supports Outokumpu’s consistent pursuit of more sustainability along the entire value chain and the promotion of circular economy. The raw material used here is steel scrap from our own production. Raw material generation, product manufacture and packaging all take place in one place, which also significantly reduces transport-related emissions.
The close cooperation with the SMS group as a technology supplier ensures that the new plant will be continuously optimized in the coming years and tailored to the specific needs of customers in the growing additive manufacturing market.
“This groundbreaking facility marks a significant advance in the development and processing of metals, particularly for 3D printing, and sets new standards in the industry. This unique solution for the production of high-quality metal powder has emerged here at Outokumpu from a close cooperation between two visionary companies that combined their extensive know-how and technological competence,” explains Dr.-Ing. Thomas Hansmann, Member of the Management Board (CTO) at SMS group GmbH “The realization of the world’s first project of this innovative metal powder atomization fills us with joy and pride.”