Last week two of our team here at LEO Lane, CEO Moshe Molcho and Idan Cataife Director of Business Development, visited Hannover Messe, one of the biggest industrial trade shows with over 200,000 attendees and 6,500 exhibitors. The fair covers all areas of industry and manufacturing innovations, our interest, of course, was the Digital Factory and Industry 4.0 which included 2 sub- themes: IoT and Additive Manufacturing (AM). Here are our impressions on additive manufacturing and its place within industrial processes.
Not the Technology but the System
It wasn’t surprising to people within the AM industry that the focus of this years’ show wasn’t technological advancements. Although we are in a time of constant innovation, almost all AM related exhibitors presented the integration process of AM in various industries rather than the technology in itself. The theme of the show ‘Integrated Industry – Creating Value’, came through everywhere, in SAP’s launch of their new Distributed Manufacturing Platform, in EOS’ Digital Factory and many more.
Moshe Molcho was invited to give a pitch by the German Startups Association, together with startups such as 3DSignals, developing sound based predictive maintenance. In his talk he presented LEO Lane as a platform within the AM ecosystem: “The whole ecosystem benefits from this, I’m talking about advantages for the enterprise, but of course also for printer manufacturers, service providers, consultants, software platforms, they all benefit”. He added “Since we designed LEO Lane as a platform using open architecture, it is very easy to integrate with us. In a matter of days, you can integrate with our service and start benefiting from controlling, protecting, and tracking your digital AM files”.
During Hannover Messe, SAP introduced the SAP Distributed Manufacturing Platform, a result of a co-innovated process together with SAP’s customers and service providers, intending to make 3D printing a ‘seamless part of digital manufacturing’. The platform will standardize the industrial process from design to distribution, integrating additive manufacturing and the ordering of parts. Dr. Tanja Rueckert, executive vice president, IoT and Digital Supply Chain, SAP commented: “After successfully co-innovating with our customers, we are now delivering a solution for manufacturers to have a standard and scalable business process to intelligently manage design, material, pricing, procurement and logistics decisions in a collaborative network to drive more effective Industry 4.0 strategies.” In addition to the Distributed Manufacturing Platform, SAP also presented their partnership with HP. Combining HP’s Multi Jet Fusions (part example below) capability of 3D printing industry standard plastic parts, and SAP’s network of partners, in order to streamline the process of evaluating and sourcing 3D print technology. There will be more exciting news from SAP’s network of partners for sure!
ThyssenKrupp, a multinational conglomerate, one of the largest steel producers in the world, working with a range of industries, including aerospace and automotive, announced their plan to open a 3D printing center by September at the fair. Executive board member of the ThyssenKrupp Materials Services division, Hans-Josef Hoss spoke about the center as well as the platform and services that will be integrated: “We have decided to establish our own 3D printing center… We start from the engineering side and deliver the final product with all aftersales and related services”.
New Digital Factories
EOS also focused on the ‘big picture’ this year: alongside their 3D printers they exhibited their take on the ‘Digital Factory’ and how AM takes a part in the factories of the future (or present). “In the context of Industry 4.0, industrial 3D printing is set to play a key role in developing the digitalized, intelligent factory of the future. At the same time, the technology gives companies greater flexibility and agility in adapting to ever-changing market conditions,” says Dr. Adrian Keppler, CMO at EOS.
In his talk Moshe Molcho also talked about ‘just in time manufacturing’ for spare parts, using additive manufacturing: “Most of the cost of some spare parts is actually the inventory costs: keeping inventory, costs of destroying if the part isn’t used, on top of manufacturing costs. If you go into just in time manufacturing, you can gain 50% profit or cost saving even though additive manufacturing is more expensive”.
Mr. Tobias Caspari, Head of Heraeus Additive Manufacturing, gave an interesting talk with a fresh perspective about AM from the point of view of a material provider. Mr. Caspari focused on the need to make AM much more industrial: “All the experts involved can collaborate live through the virtual platform. That saves a lot of time and simplifies coordination.” He also talked about Heraeus focusing on making custom AM material by creating new powders and new ‘custom materials’ from existing powders by customizing the 3D printer parameters (e.g., laser power).
Alongside 3D printing developments by Concept Laser (below) GE showcased their digital offering, Asset Performance Management (APM) and their Plant Applications Manufacturing Execution System (MES), both address the current topics of automated manufacturing and Predictive maintenance. Predictive Maintenance came up more than once in the fair, integrating AM and digital manufacturing means better control over production and distribution, yet when combined with IoT it also supplies data analysis of the factory. Predictive Maintenance can predict errors and malfunctions before they happen, down to the future erosion of a piston.
Siemens, one of the largest exhibitors at Hannover this year, with multiple booths, showcased their IoT Solutions and demonstrated how any size company can benefit from smart manufacturing, as well as the economical production of customized, 3D printed, patient-specific surgery guides. By creating a ‘digital twin‘ of the patient’s anatomy, bioengineers can develop a precise patient-specific surgical plan, and additively manufacture customized implants and surgical instruments, also initially developed as digital twins (up top parts for gas turbines additively manufactured by Siemens).
Hannover Messe showed that there are no question marks about additive manufacturing’s place in industrial processes, the benefits a company gains from integrating AM are clear. Digital manufacturing provides layers of information and control and now the focus is moving from developing the hardware to the software, from the actual 3D printing to the information it consumes and provides and how it can be used in a highly efficient system.
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