Sweden’s Höganäs AB reports that it has launched its new Vacuum Induction Gas Atomiser (VIGA) at its site in Laufenburg, Germany, where the company produces metal powders for Additive Manufacturing.
The company states that the VIGA system, which was commissioned in August after a few turbulent months during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, represents how Höganäs is setting new standards for powder quality, as well as for workplace conditions.
“With the VIGA, we are setting new standards on a number of levels,” stated Daniel Reimann, Production Manager at the Höganäs Laufenburg site. “On the one hand, we are using it to produce metal powder of even higher quality than before; while on the other, we are also ensuring workplace conditions of the highest standard.”
In addition to powder quality, the working conditions and organisational processes surrounding its production are said to also raise the standards at Höganäs to a new level.
“Product quality and workplace quality go hand in hand,” continued Reimann. “So, it was important to come up with a solution for the design of workplaces where staff feel comfortable and can concentrate on their tasks. For instance, this includes consideration of the fact that it is more pleasant for staff to monitor the melting and atomisation process from an air-conditioned control room, rather than standing near the intense heat of the crucible.”
According to Höganäs, last year the Laufenburg plant supplied a considerable proportion of the several hundred tonnes of powder used worldwide for industrial Additive Manufacturing, with this quantity expected to increase significantly. There is reportedly immense demand, particularly in the energy, medical and aerospace markets.
Human Gherekhloo, Manager of applied technology at the Höganäs Laufenburg site, commented, “The individual production of high-end components for critical applications is growing rapidly. This not only requires stable production processes, but also places ever-increasing demands on the physical and chemical properties of the raw material.”
The company states that the VIGA launch serves as a blueprint for further planned conversion and expansion measures in Laufenburg.