Outokumpu commissioned the new inert gas atomization plant for the production of high-quality metal powder in April 2023 after around two years of planning and construction. The facility has now been officially inaugurated. The Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hendrik Wüst, and around 160 other guests attended the inauguration event.
“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,” said Hendrik Wüst, Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Krefeld as a traditional location
The Krefeld production site has a long tradition, steel has been manufactured here for more than 120 years. A lot has changed since then, 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 pleased to be putting a completely new production unit into operation here in Krefeld after a long time. 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 the journey of our customers with expertise, development of new sustainable materials, flexibility and adaptation for different powder metallurgy technologies”, explains Thomas Anstots , Head of Business Line Advanced Materials at Outokumpu.
Organization focused on innovation
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 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 and circular economy
As a large recycling unit, the new facility also supports Outokumpu's consistent pursuit of greater sustainability along the entire value chain and the promotion of circular economy. Steel scrap from our own production is used as the raw material here. 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. A close collaboration between two visionary companies that combined their extensive know-how and technological expertise has resulted in this unique solution for producing high-quality metal powder here at Outokumpu. The realization of the world's first project of this innovative metal powder atomization fills us with joy and pride," says Dr.-Ing. Thomas Hansmann, Member of the Management Board (CTO) at SMS group GmbH.