Siemens may be the largest engineering company in Europe, with a focus on healthcare, industry, energy, infrastructure and cities, but even they have felt the huge benefit of utilising 3D printing as part of their processes.
Siemens have long led the way when it comes to the latest trends in manufacturing, so it was only natural for the company to incorporate 3D print technology in an impressive way.
Recently, Siemens announced that they have begun to integrate 3D printing into all aspects of product creation, rather than simply on the factory floor. Since then, they have reaped the rewards in terms of the amount of time saved in creating the initial prototype and, eventually, the finished product.
3D printing has been a huge success for Siemens as it has helped the company produce prototypes faster than ever before, resulting in the ability to bring customers into the early phases of the design process. Using the early prototypes, customers are engaged from start to finish, allowing for key changes to improve the quality of the final product.
Stephen Baker, Head of Research and Development for Siemens Rail Automation division, has backed up the success of 3D printing with an example of how the company used an Ultimaker 2 3D printer to make an initial plastic component prototype. From there, it took just a couple of weeks for the final 316 grade stainless steel product to be completed.
“So therefore we gone from a 3D CAD model, to a 3D component, to the final metallic component without having to go through the normal process of manufacturing," Baker explained.
"This has enabled us to reduce our time from the model stage to the final component stage to about a week to 2 weeks, compared to where this would normally take us anywhere between 12 and 16 weeks.
"The principle saving is time (traditional an average of 10+ weeks per component) and potential rework as one-off prototyping allows us to try designs and elements without investing in expensive tooling.”
Baker also went on to explain the reason behind choosing the Ultimaker 2 3D Printer, with the impressive device matching all of Siemens' specifications. The company needed a 3D printer with a 8” building space, a sub 0.100mm resolution and under the budget of $10,000, along with local support - hence why the Ultimaker 2 was selected.
Check out the video below for more information on Siemens and their use of 3D printing: