Creating the perfect powder

Tekna emerging as a leader in advanced materials industry

Photo courtesy of Tekna
Signing ceremony on Nov. 19. Left to right: Morten Henriksen (Arendals Fossekompani), Frederic Mattei (Aperam), and Luc Dionne (Tekna).

Rasmus Falck

The Norwegian startup Tekna delivers equipment for powder production of advanced materials used for 3D printing of advanced components in everything from airplanes to the car industry to medical implants. They are also a producer of the powder. With headquarters in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Tekna operates manufacturing centers in Canada and France, as well as sales distribution offices in China, India, and South Korea.

The company is a subsidiary of Arendals Fossekompani (AFK), located in Arendal, Norway. AFK’s first investment in Tekna was in 2007. Six years later, in 2013, Tekna became a wholly owned subsidiary company. So far, it has been burning money, yet in 2019 things took a turn for the better: the startup’s sales of powder for 3D printing increased by 50%.

Photo courtesy of Tekna
The Norwegian startup Tekna operates manufacturing centers in Canada and France, as well as sales distribution offices in China, India, and South Korea.

AFK is an industrial investment company that invests in energy and technology related companies with an international market potential. They are also a producer of hydropower, a property developer, and a financial investor. The company was founded in 1896 with the purpose of utilizing the water in Arendal river system to generate electricity. Parallel to this, Bøylefoss Power Plant established a new power-intensive industry in Eydehavn, some nine miles away. The first electric power was delivered in 1913. The same year, the company was listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange.

The deregulation of the Norwegian electricity market opened up new market opportunities, and AFK took an active role. In the new millennium, they started a transformation from a local hydropower company to an international investment company. A series of successful acquisitions of Norwegian and international companies formed AFK as we know it today. Annual turnover has increased from around NOK 300 million to NOK 5 billion. Revenues from hydropower currently account for 3% of the total turnover.

In November 2019, Tekna and the French metal giant Aperam established a joint venture to capitalize on each company’s core expertise. The new company, ImphyTek Powders SAS, will be based in France. Aperam specializes in nickel and specialty alloys. Among Tekna’s competencies is plasma atomization technology. Together, they can develop nickel and alloy spherical powders, which are in demand on a local and global scale in a number of industries for additive manufacturing and metal injection molding, and thereby, grow their businesses.

At the signing of the agreement, the CEO of Tekna, Luc Dionne, commented that the new company “is the result of Tekna and Aperam’s joint capabilities and will provide our customers with a reliable supply chain of high-quality metal powder.” He continued, “This agreement is a major step in Tekna’s growth strategy. We are proud to achieve it with a partner whose dynamism, innovation and reputation are widely recognized in the industry.”

Timoteo Di Maulo, CEO of Aperam, commented, “We are very proud of today’s agreement with Tekna, which is part of our strategy to further transform our business, and address next generation needs of our customers through new technologies.” He added, “This collaboration also enables us to further consolidate our leading position in the nickel alloys and specialty steels markets.”

“We have great expectations for the cooperation with Aperam,” said Ørjan Svanevik, CEO of AFK. “The ambition is to secure a large market share in a rapidly growing market for metal powders for additive manufacturing. Tekna powder sales are up 50% in 2019.”

With this new joint venture, all eyes will be on Tekna in 2020, with exciting new opportunities ahead.

This article originally appeared in the January 24, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Rasmus Falck

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo.