Kanthal® Additive Manufacturing opens a world of possibilities
When young technology meets established knowledge, the path to innovation is opened. Kanthal President Nicklas Nilsson and Head of R&D and Technologies Dilip Chandrasekaran see endless possibilities as well as great customer value with the new customization service, Kanthal® Additive Manufacturing.
Additive manufacturing has been integrated in recent years as part of the production process in the aerospace, automotive and other industries. However, the relatively young manufacturing method has been limited in the heating industry – until now. Kanthal® Additive Manufacturing customization service opens possibilities where the only limitation is in the mind of the designer.
“We’ve been involved with metal powder production for the last 30 years,” says Kanthal President Nicklas Nilsson, “and we now see that our powder-based iron-chromium-aluminum, or FeCrAl, alloy has huge potential in additive manufacturing.”
From its position as the number one company for sustainable industrial heating technology, Kanthal sees additive manufacturing as enormous potential for the customers.
“We want this revolutionary technique to inspire customers to come to us with their new ideas, some of them that earlier has been inconceivable, and realize them together with us,” Nilsson says. “Additive manufacturing has so many benefits, from both a design and a business viewpoint, as well as from a sustainability perspective. For instance, using less material means less waste. This technology is the future.”
Kanthal has been focusing on the area of additive manufacturing to get a full understanding of how to best use the company’s innovative materials and electrical heating products to create value for the customer. Dilip Chandrasekaran, Head of R&D and Technologies at Kanthal, explains how the superior high-temperature corrosion resistance of the FeCrAl material, Kanthal® AM100, opens the door for a whole new way of working.
“Our drive is to constantly provide better solutions for the customer,” he says. “Our materials, along with our competence and application knowledge, combined with the customer’s own application knowledge, are what is actually creating a value for them. Combining this further with unique solutions of designing and producing can create even more value.”
For the heating industry, the area of additive manufacturing is uncharted territory where the roads ahead are paved with new inventions on a day-to-day basis.
“One thing that is fascinating about additive manufacturing is that so many things happen so quickly,” Chandrasekaran says. “Things that we thought were impossible yesterday are now happening. We learn something new every day.”
He describes how many difficulties they’ve tried to foresee down the unpaved road have often been easier to solve than they first expected. Nilsson agrees, adding that the biggest challenge with additive manufacturing has been related to mindset.
“There are basically no limits to what you can design,” Nilsson says. “That takes a while to wrap your mind around. The possibilities are endless, and once that is clear, it truly opens up for revolutionary innovation.”
Innovation is in the DNA of Kanthal, and the potential of additive manufacturing will certainly make it thrive. Being number one in the industry also means taking responsibility to lead the way and development. It’s busy times for the Head of R&D and Technology.
“I see fantastic opportunities in the future, and I think we can solve some of the big issues we’re working with today, such as sustainability and energy efficiency,” Chandrasekaran says. “If we open and go beyond the limitations that we have inside ourselves, this unlocks a field of innovation to harvest. It’s a great time being an R&D engineer right now.”