HUNTERSVILLE – Two years after announcing plans to establish an additive manufacturing operation in The Park-Huntersville, the Switzerland-based global technology firm Oerlikon held official grand opening ceremonies for its facility May 29.

At an outdoor celebration featuring dozens of local, regional and state dignitaries along with company officials and guests, Oerlikon unveiled the new 125,000-square-foot facility off Vanstory Drive inside The Park, a mixed-used corporate, retail and residential complex just west of Interstate 77.

According to company representatives, the $55 million Huntersville plant is part of $400 million the company has invested in the United States in the past five years. And Oerlikon expects to invest another $200 million in the next three years, adding approximately 400 new U.S. jobs.

The local facility, Oerlikon’s second in North Carolina, is already in operation and employs 60 people. The company plans to eventually have 93 employees – engineering, skilled craftsmen and research and development positions – at the Huntersville location, with annual salaries averaging around $93,000, well above Mecklenburg County’s average compensation.

Oerlikon is a market leader in advanced materials, surface engineering and polymer processing with company materials applied in multiple industries including the aerospace, automotive, medical, energy, textiles and tooling fields.

The company develops new materials, surface technologies, applications, components and textile manufacturing solutions to allow customers to create and innovate products.

The Huntersville facility is part of the additive manufacturing segment of Oerlikon. The  facility develops materials and manufactures metal- and ceramic-based powders and wires for coatings and other industrial applications, creating hundreds of products including thermal spray coating materials and auxiliary products.

Additive manufacturing uses high-tech tools, rapid prototyping and metal and plastics 3-D printing to help customers create components and transform production processes, which leads to the production of more complex and better performing components that are lighter and last longer, while also simplifying logistics and reducing environmental impact.

The opening of the Huntersville location, according to Michael Süss, chairman of the Oerlikon Group’s board, illustrates the company’s focus on evolving production operations.

“This facility marks an important step in our investment strategy for growth,” Süss said in a news release. “Additive manufacturing will play a decisive role in how industries and industrial processes will look in the future. We are committed to investing in this business and leading the industrialization of this technology.”

Sven Hicken, head of the Oerlikon’s additive manufacturing division, echoed that perspective.

“We are already working with customers in the aerospace, automotive, energy and medical industries in the U.S, and anticipate continued growth in those sectors, as well as in others,” Hicken said. “We believe additive manufacturing can transform production in many industries, and we are excited that our presence here in North Carolina allows us to better demonstrate those possibilities to our customers.”

Globally, Oerlikon has more than 10,500 employees at 175 locations in 37 countries.

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