Austrian steelmaker voestalpine plans to invest EUR 40 million on a high-speed forging line at Böhler Edelstahl GmbH, a group company based in Kapfenberg.

The investment will ‘give additional thrust’ to group revenue in what is regarded as a technologically challenging customer segment.

Currently, revenues hover around EUR300 million, but voestalpine hopes to boost that figure to EUR500 million through investment at Böhler.

According to voestalpine, the ‘state-of-the-art’ facility planned for Kapfenburg, Austria, is scheduled to go into operation in 2018 and will be used primarily to manufacture forgings as pre-materials for extremely high load-bearing aircraft components, such as engine parts.

The company estimates that global demand for new aircraft over the next 15 years will almost reach 40,000 units.

Wolfgang Eder, chairman of the management board of voestalpine AG, said that the aerospace industry was one of the key drivers in the company’s international growth strategy in what he called ‘the future market of mobility’.

“All most important aircraft manufacturers already rely on technologies and products from voestalpine. By intensifying our innovation and investment activities we aim to further expand our position as a leading provider in this sophisticated customer segment,” Eder said.

Voestalpine Group’s special steel division is a leading global supplier of high performance materials and special forgings for the aerospace industry. The company manufactures highly stress-resistant products including structural parts, engine components and mounts, landing gear parts and door segments that are used by Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer.

Franz Rotter, a member of the management board of voestalpine AG and head of the special steel division, said that the new forging line at Böhler will play a key role in increasing volumes in the aerospace business and will set new standards in product quality, process automation and digitalisation. “As a result, this investment significantly strengthens the technological leadership enjoyed by our Styrian production companies,” he said.

According to Rotter, investment in a new special steel plant is also in planning as a way of opening up a new dimension in materials production. “This is in addition to, and independent of, the current project,” he said, adding that a final decision on the location of the special steel plant is expected in the latter half of next year.

The new facility will produce forged components capable of withstanding extreme conditions in the challenging field of oil and gas exploration. The forging line will process the material with a pressing force of 4,400 tonnes and a speed of up to 120 strokes per minute (two strokes per second).