Thyssenkrupp steps up 3D printing operations

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MUELHEIM AN DER RUHR, Germany (Reuters) - Thyssenkrupp TKAG.DE opened a 3D printing center in the industrial heartland of western Germany on Friday as part of its efforts to tap into an expanding market.

Thyssenkrupp has invested upwards of a million euros in the center, which operates two 3D printers, one for plastic and one for metal components, Chief Executive Heinrich Hiesinger said.

Hiesinger estimated the value of the overall market for such products was as high as around 20 billion euros ($23.8 billion) in annual sales, adding the German company was keen on accessing it through industries, including aviation, automotive and energy.

“If we take all our sectors we would cover about half of that, which does not mean that we can service this market right away. But its the arena where we will be able to start to deliver to customers,” Hiesinger said.

Some industrial components such as airline or wind-turbine parts can now be made by 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, in which objects are printed in layers directly from a computer design instead of being cut out of blocks of material.

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Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Keith Weir