For over 120 years, Lincoln Electric has been a world leader in the design, development and manufacture of equipment for welding and fabrication. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, the company operates 60 manufacturing locations in 19 countries and generated $3bn in revenue in 2018.

Today, Lincoln Electric is working toward increasing its presence among the newest types of fabricators – additive manufacturers. It recently acquired Baker Industries, Inc., a Detroit, Michigan-based provider of custom tooling, parts and fixtures with extensive in-house design and manufacturing capabilities, including additive manufacturing (AM). Lincoln Electric views the Baker acquisition as enhancing its automation portfolio and its new metal additive manufacturing service business.

gasworld US spoke with Mark Douglass, Business Development Manager for Additive Solutions at Lincoln Electric, to learn more about the company’s new AM service business. Douglass joined Lincoln Electric in 2015 and prior to this appointment was working in the company’s Corporate Development group identifying acquisitions.

gasworld (GW): We are excited to hear about Lincoln’s new metal additive service business. What type of products and services do you intend to supply?

Mark Douglass (MD): Lincoln Electric’s Additive Solutions will provide large-scale 3D printed metal parts to customers, in near-net (i.e. as-printed) or finished condition. This service will target prototypes, tooling, production parts and repair services. We intend to officially launch in mid-2019, but we are working with customers now.

GW: How does Baker Industries fit into this business?

MD: Baker Industries is a strategic fit for our Additive Solutions business from multiple perspectives. The Baker operation, along with a new Cleveland, Ohio-based additive manufacturing development center, will provide an additive manufacturing platform in the US to help customers domestically source their parts, tooling and prototypes, which will improve their lead times, designs, and quality in their operations. Additionally, Baker’s extensive in-house machining capabilities provide downstream finishing services for additive customers’ products. Baker’s numerous 3- and 5-axis machines are capable of machining very large parts and their large 5-axis machine has a work envelope of roughly 45ft x 20ft x 10ft, which complements the scale of additive projects that we can undertake.

“We anticipate our additive solution to be an alternative manufacturing technology to machining, casting and forging operations, not welding”

Baker is also experienced in providing quality, machined parts, and has won numerous aerospace supplier quality awards, including a Modern Machine Shop “Top Shops” award in 2018. Additionally, Baker operates under stringent quality management system and is ISO 9100:2015 and AS9100D certified and Nadcap accredited. Having such a strong machining partner helps us design and plan appropriately to ensure a comprehensive approach to the entire manufacturing process for our customers.

GW: You mention that the new AM development center is in Cleveland. Is it at company headquarters?

MD: It is close. The Additive Solutions group is located only 2 miles east of our world headquarters.

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Source: Lincoln Electric

GW: Can you tell us more about what will happen at the additive manufacturing development center?

MD: Our Additive Solutions business in Cleveland will be responsible for overseeing our additive R&D and business development and will provide a local additive platform for customers to print prototypes, production parts, and repair services utilizing our current GMAW and laser hot-wire based additive technology platforms.  

GW: Who will lead the additive manufacturing service business?

MD: Our lead executive is Michael Whitehead, Senior Vice President, President, Global Automation, Cutting, and Additive Solutions. Mike has served at Lincoln Electric for fourteen years, starting as our chief counsel for intellectual property and has had a variety of leadership roles, including President of Lincoln Electric Canada and most recently, SVP of Strategy and M&A. Mike is responsible for both our Additive Solutions business as well as Baker Industries, and oversees a dedicated additive development team who are actively developing the technology and platform.

GW: How does Lincoln’s new metal additive manufacturing service business fit into your existing business model?

MD: We view it as a natural extension of our current automation business, which offers customers a comprehensive engineered solution that is designed to ensure that their operations are more productive, safe, and delivering consistently high-quality welded and cut components. In our additive business, we are maintaining our high service approach by partnering with customers to engineer a solution that will rapidly produce parts for them to ensure maximum uptime of their operations and R&D programs.

GW: Is additive manufacturing eroding some of your traditional metal welding customer base?

MD: We have not seen any erosion nor do we anticipate any meaningful erosion of our welding customer base. We anticipate our additive solution to be an alternative manufacturing technology to machining, casting and forging operations, not welding fabrication.

GW: What markets is Lincoln particularly interested in servicing with this new division?

MD: Our Additive Solutions business is pursuing a wide variety of markets that utilize large metal parts: energy (oil & gas, power generation), automotive and trucking, aerospace tooling, marine, heavy fabrication and construction equipment, mining, and general industrial.

GW: Jonah Myerberg, Chief Technology Officer of Desktop Metal, is reported as saying, “I don’t think 3D printing is going to offset traditional manufacturing the way we all think it will. It’ll come in and find its place, alongside all these other manufacturing processes. But I think that type of adoption is going to happen very quickly.” How fast do you see manufacturers adopting 3D printing for metal parts?

MD: The adoption of 3D printing for metal parts really depends on the industry and how parts are used. We expect applications with relatively low or no regulatory hurdles, or minimal functional requirements, e.g. prototypes and tooling, will adopt additive relatively quickly — where the business case makes sense. However, in industries like aerospace and oil & gas where parts often need to meet strict functional requirements, industry standards and undergo rigorous testing, 3D printing for metal parts will require longer adoption. We think there is significant growth opportunity near term due to the broad opportunity across the industrial manufacturing sector.

GW: How do AM services fit into Lincoln’s plans for strategic growth?

MD: A key component of our growth strategy is to deliver solutions and value to our customers — notably to “improve our customers’ ability to make their products better, safer, and easier.” We expect both our Automation and Additive services to grow appreciably to $1 billion in sales by 2025 from both organic and acquisition investments.