New Investment to Create 150 New Jobs /// But GKN Has Even Bigger Plans in Sweden
Global aerospace and automotive engineering group, GKN, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of aero-structures, has announced it will invest $64 million (600 million SEK) to expand and improve its production facilities in Trollhättan, Sweden (located in the south of the country 75 km north of Gothenburg). When the expansion is operational later this year, GKN will be able to produce aircraft engine parts using additive manufacturing technology, also more commonly known as 3D printing. Strong demand for commercial jet engines for the remainder of this decade and beyond, will create an estimated 1,000 jobs at GKN’s facilities in Trollhättan over the next 5 years.
Currently, aircraft engine components are manufactured using large castings and forgings where as much as 80% of the material is removed during the precision machining process, which results in a lot of waste. While the scrap material can be sold off and reused, companies only receive a fraction of what they paid. Also, the production of castings and forgings consumes a lot of energy. By employing additive manufacturing technology, instead of taking a larger structure and removing material to reach the desired shape, structures are produced layer by layer with lasers that fuse metal wire or powder. In turn, raw material waste, energy use and shipping is minimized, which significantly lowers CO2 emissions, cost and lead time. In the future, we will gradually see additive manufacturing increase its share of the world’s aerostructures market.
Joakim Andersson, President of the Engines business of GKN Aerospace, said: “We are committed to driving sustainability in the aviation industry and pioneering improved solutions for our customers. Our development of additive fabrication for large, complex and load-bearing aircraft components is a great example of this and it marks a significant breakthrough for the industry. The benefits we see from this technology are truly game-changing. Government support has been pivotal in enabling us to push our capabilities forward and I am delighted to establish this unique technology in our world-leading facility in Trollhättan Sweden.”
The Swedish Energy Agency’s Industriklivet initiative will fund $15 million (152 million SEK) of the investment. The new additive manufacturing facility is projected to create approximately 150 new jobs for operators, technicians, and engineers. GKN itself has invested in the development of additive manufacturing technologies for decades and has research and technology centers in Sweden, the UK and the U.S.
Peter Engdahl, Head of Research, Innovation and Business Development at the Swedish Energy Agency said: “GKN Aerospace’s solution will be able to contribute to a reduced use of raw materials and create opportunities to fundamentally change the design, making the aircraft engine lighter and more efficient. This is the first time this technology is being tested for this component size and we see the potential for it to spread globally and also in other areas.”
In 2012, GKN took control of the Trollhättan facility when it acquired Volvo Aero, the aero engine division of Volvo Group, for $1 billion. Today, nearly 2,000 people are employed at GKN’s facilities in Trollhättan. Additive manufacturing has been a strategic focus for GKN for many years. More recently, in 2017, the company merged all of its global additive manufacturing activities into a new brand called GKN Additive. In the fall of 2022, GKN acquired Sweden’s Permanova Lasersystem, a leader in advanced laser technology and cell integration.
In November 2023, GKN landed a major new agreement with GE Aerospace valued at $5 billion over the next 30+ years, and the company expects to hire 200 people annually in Trollhättan over the next 5 years.