Kennametal Turns to AM to Drive Growth, Product InnovationLane Long
posted on November 05, 2019 |
The Pennsylvania-based manufacturer sees 3D printing technology as an opportunity to augment and refine its product offerings.(Image courtesy of Kennametal.)
In a press release last week, Kennametal announced the launch of a new business unit focused on additive manufacturing (AM). The venture is the continuation of a longstanding effort within the company’s existing businesses to integrate 3D printing into its processes. Production is already underway in the new division, dubbed Kennametal Additive Manufacturing.
AM has helped Kennametal with prototyping and limited scale production of certain components for years. Kennametal Additive Manufacturing will undoubtedly benefit from that experience but also plans to take it several steps further. The new business unit will offer end-to-end 3D metal printing solutions at full scale. This means that several metal powders already supplied by the company—nickel, cobalt, and iron—will now fuel in-house printers rather than being sold as materials. The AM division will use both binder and laser powder printing technologies. Any necessary post processing will also be handled in-house.
Vice President Ron Port sees the changes 3D printing can bring as twofold.
“This new business unit is advancing both what we make and how we make it, so we can produce better parts faster and more efficiently for our customers,” he said.
He hopes the company’s materials science expertise in conjunction with the design flexibility afforded by AM will be a recipe for ongoing improvement in the end-use cutting and machining products it brings to market.
Sherri McCleary, an industry vet with 30 years of experience in materials science, will head the nascent venture. While Kennametal Additive Manufacturing will remain complementary to the core business for some time, early results are promising. The unit has already begun shipping components to customers in the energy sector. These products are designed for extreme wear, corrosion and heat resistance and incorporate proprietary Kennametal materials. Regardless of the end-use markets it may cultivate in the coming years, Kennametal sees combining its proficiency in materials with flexible in-house AM as a value-add for both the company and its customers.