With an investment volume of 58 million euros, the Schunk Group is creating entirely new capacity for Schunk Ingenieurkeramik to manufacture products for the chip industry. It is one of the largest single investments in the history of the technology company.
The starting signal for a major investment for Schunk Ingenieurkeramik: With a ceremonial laying of the foundation stone in the presence of District Administrator Dr. Andreas Coenen and Mayor Christian Pakusch, the Schunk Group has begun construction of a new production building in Willich. The investment will comprehensively expand Schunk Ingenieurkeramik's manufacturing capacities for products used in the chip industry.
"I am pleased that with today's laying of the foundation stone, we are setting the course for further growth here at the Willich site," said Dr. Ulrich von Hülsen, Member of the Executive Board of the Schunk Group, at the ceremony. The Schunk Group is investing a total of 58 million euros at the site: around 16 million for the new production hall, around 36 million for equipping it with high-tech machinery and around six million euros for expanding production in the existing building.
"For Schunk Ingenieurkeramik, 3D printing of ceramics has become a key technology," said Managing Director Joachim Heym. This innovation from Willich has established itself in the market in just a few years, Heym said. "The new production building will give us the opportunity to continue this success story at a fast pace.
Ready for use as early as the end of 2022
The new hall should be ready for use as early as the end of the year. In the future, around 50 employees will work here. The production building will be fully geared to the needs of 3D printing of technical ceramics. The fully air-conditioned hall, which covers a total area of around 3,500 square meters, will later house machines for high-precision hard machining of technical ceramics and high-precision measuring technology in particular. This will be used to mechanically rework and measure the silicon carbide (SiC) components produced using 3D printing.
Extremely hard yet lightweight
Silicon carbide 3D printing is particularly interesting for components that need to exhibit especially high rigidity and strength. This is because, compared to other materials such as steel, the extremely hard yet relatively light ceramic hardly expands at high temperatures and offers extreme dimensional stability. The silicon carbide, which will later be diamond-hard, is initially available as a powder and is mixed with a binder. Using CAD design data, a 3D printer then models the desired component layer by layer.
Such components made of printed silicon carbide are used, among others, in metrology, aerospace technology and, in particular, in the semiconductor industry, where Schunk Ingenieurkeramik has been able to successfully establish its high-tech production process. "We are supplying into the heart of one of the most important machines in chip production and are thus part of a technical revolution in modern chip production," Heym was pleased about the extremely positive development of the innovation from Willich. Schunk Ingenieurkeramik is the global technology leader in this field, because only Schunk can realize the demanding material properties required by the chip industry in 3D printing.