Höganäs’s Laufenburg site in Germany produces high quality metal powders for additive manufacturing. The recent launch of its new VIGA atomizing plant means that not only is Höganäs setting new standards for powder quality, but also for workplace conditions.

The production team at the Höganäs plant in Laufenburg, Germany, has put a lot of heart and soul into the “Vacuum Induction Gas Atomizer”, or VIGA for short. After a few turbulent months during the pandemic, the plant was commissioned in August. The last step followed complex approval procedures and a number of conversion processes.

Now production manager Daniel Reimann and Human Gherekhloo, manager applied technology, stand in front of the new atomizing plant on behalf of the entire workforce and proudly explain the advantages.

“With the VIGA, we are setting new standards on a number of levels,” says Daniel Reimann. “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.”

Powder with the best properties

Last year, the Laufenburg plant supplied a considerable proportion of the several hundred tonnes of powder used worldwide for industrial 3D printing – and this quantity is now set to increase significantly. There is immense demand, particularly in the energy, medical and aerospace markets.

Human Gherekhloo “The individual production of high-end components for critical applications is growing rapidly,” explains Human Gherekhloo. “This not only requires stable production processes, but also places ever increasing demands on the physical and chemical properties of the raw material.”

The quality requirements for powders are extremely high, especially in the aerospace industry. With the new capacity, Höganäs can also comply reliably with the limit values of the future, which will be even more demanding.

Stringent demands on workplace quality

But it’s not just quality of product that is crucial at the new plant. The working conditions and organizational processes surrounding production also raise the standards at Höganäs to a new level.

Daniel Reimann “Product quality and workplace quality go hand in hand. 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,” says Daniel Reimann. “For instance, this includes consideration of the fact that it is more pleasant for staff to monitor the melting and atomization process from an air-conditioned control room rather than standing near the intense heat of the crucible.”

This target is more than met by the VIGA. The project now serves as a blueprint for further planned conversion and expansion measures in Laufenburg.

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