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Siemens invests £27m in UK 3D printing facility

26 March, 2018

Siemens is investing up to £27m in a 3D printing factory in Worcester, UK, to create a global centre of excellence for additive manufacturing. The facility, due to open September, will generate about 55 high-quality jobs and allow Siemens to increase its fleet of high-tech 3D printing machines from 15 to 50 over the next five years.

The new facility will also be a focus for collaboration between the 3D printing specialist, Materials Solutions – in which Siemens took an 85% stake in 2016 – and Siemens UK's Digital Factory division. Materials Solutions is a pioneer in the use of the selective laser melting (SLM) technology, which is used to produce high-performance metal parts, especially high-temperature “super-alloys”. The business has grown substantially over the past two years.

Last year, Materials Solutions produced the world’s first 3D printed gas turbine blade, which is designed to survive speeds up to 13,000 rpm, temperatures up to 1,250°C, and forces of 11 tonnes. “It is one of the most challenging applications for metal additive manufacturing,” says Dr Markus Seibold, head of additive manufacturing in Siemens Power & Gas. “If you can print a turbine blade, you can print pretty much anything.”

Siemens UK CEO, Juergen Maier, says that the investment in the new facility “underlines our belief that there is huge potential for innovation and growth within the additive manufacturing sector. It is also the next step towards achieving our ambition of pioneering the industrialisation of 3D printing, and demonstrates how we are leading the way for the fourth industrial revolution.”

Materials Solutions has already produced turbine blades using 3D printing – one of the most challenging applications for the technology

The site will serve industries including aerospace, automotive and power generation. Materials Solutions’ general manager, Phil Hatherley, predicts that it will help to “achieve a shift in the perception of 3D printing from being a technology associated with prototyping, to a viable option for the serial production of additively manufactured parts”.

UK business secretary Greg Clark says that the factory “will produce a game-changing technology that has the potential to transform the UK’s industrial base”.

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