Siemens is driving adoption of additive manufacturing

Written by: Eureka! | Published:

The challenge of facilitating the adoption of additive manufacturing (AM) is one that faces all of industry. With this in mind, it is not surprising that Siemens is making particular strides in this direction.

This began with the official launch and general availability of the Siemens AM Network, following pilots and successful implementations with customers and partners, including Decathlon, Siemens Gas & Power, Siemens Mobility, HP and Materialise.

The Siemens AM Network provides an advanced cloud-based solution to foster collaboration and process orchestration between engineers, procurement and suppliers of 3D printed parts. Providing an end-to-end digital process that connects the demand for parts with a supplier network helps enable globally distributed manufacturing.

Siemens’ AM Network is designed for enterprises, suppliers and partners that are looking to accelerate the adoption of AM for industrial processes and applications. It digitalises the order-to-delivery process by aligning the engineering and commercial processes for high-quality AM functional prototypes and serial production parts. The system connects buyers with a global supplier network which streamlines the process, fosters collaboration and engagement, and orchestrates the workflow to increase throughput and reduce operational costs. As part of the Siemens’ suite of Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, the AM Network meets the most stringent requirements for security, availability and regulatory compliance.

AM network

“Siemens’ AM experts and industry veterans have developed the additive manufacturing network based on a clear understanding of the complexities and needs of the industry, fostered by a sincere passion to promote the adoption of AM in the industrial domain,” said Zvi Feuer, senior vice president manufacturing engineering at Siemens Digital Industries Software. “As buyers, sellers and partners continue to plug into the ecosystem, they will find a streamlined, modular solution that can grow with each company’s individual needs.”

Early adopters are already realising the benefits of the AM Network. Decathlon, the largest sporting goods retailer in the world with over 1500 stores in 49 countries, uses the AM Network to manage its AM ordering process and control production progress as part of its strategy to scale its use of 3D printing globally and ramp up production, while maintaining high standards of quality. At Siemens Gas & Power, the AM Network is helping the business to be more agile and respond to inquiries in real time to help ensure customers get exactly what they ordered, on time.

“We have full confidence in the AM Network to help us facilitate a smooth flow of information among the various functions within the organisation,” said Andreas Graichen, group manager, AM industrialisation and digitalisation, Siemens Power & Gas, Service Distributed Energy. “It will also allow us to effectively connect to our external customers, while providing a detailed outlook on costs and production time from beginning to end.”

Left to right: Dr. Sven Hicken, Oerlikon, Head of Additive Manufacturing Business Unit & Dr. Karsten Heuser, Siemens, Vice President for Additive Manufacturing.

Collaboration

Another notable collaboration in this regard is the strategic collaboration between Oerlikon AM, the additive manufacturing unit of technology group Oerlikon and Siemens AG.

The agreement will see Siemens supply Oerlikon AM with digital enterprise solutions that will help the Switzerland-based company accelerate AM’s industrialisation.

The integration of Siemens’ digital expertise portfolio in Oerlikon’s software landscape in its AM and R&D sites will support Oerlikon in actively managing the AM process from end to end using one interface.

“At the moment we have a variety of special tools that we use for different steps of the value chain,” said Dr Sven Hicken, head of Oerlikon’s Additive Manufacturing Business Unit.

“Developing a more integrated system that gives us increased visibility and puts all of our manufacturing sites on the same page will allow us more flexibility and speed in responding to customer requests.”

The two companies will begin by focusing on tools used in the engineering part of the AM process. The project is expected to take approximately two years to complete, but individual models will go into operation when completed.

“Oerlikon has extensive expertise in the AM process,” said Dr Karsten Heuser, vice-president of additive manufacturing for Siemens Digital Industries. “We know we can learn from them and are excited by the opportunity to use our technology to enhance their productivity. Working together, we believe we can make a major impact on industry’s adoption of AM.”

From a software point of view, Siemens Digital Industries Software has also announced AM Path Optimizer, a beta technology integrated in NX software, to help customers solve overheating challenges and help reduce scrap and increase production yield to achieve the industrialisation of AM, or the use of AM at the industrial scale. Siemens has developed this next generation advanced simulation technology to help maximise the production yield and quality of powder bed fusion manufactured parts. This latest extension of Siemens’ end-to-end AM solution feeds the digital thread, informing each step of the industrialised AM process.

Building on the Simcenter Additive Manufacturing Process Simulation solution announced in November 2018, AM Path Optimizer complements Siemens’ strategy for the digital twin of the manufacturing process and addresses errors originated from suboptimal scan strategies and process parameters. These can lead to systematic failures due to overheating, which can cause scrap and inconsistencies in component quality.

First time right

Siemens has had success demonstrating this beta technology with Trumpf as a partner. “With the AM Path Optimizer, Siemens and Trumpf can push industrialisation of additive technologies further forward,” said Jeroen Risse, AM Expert at TRUMPF. “In our demonstrations we saw an improvement of geometrical accuracy, elimination of re-coater errors caused by overheating, as well as a more homogenous surface quality. Also, the scrap rate is expected to be reduced significantly.”

The technology uses an innovative approach combining physics-based simulation with machine learning to analyse a full job file in few minutes before execution on the machine. This technology is expected to help achieve ‘first time right’ prints and drastically reduce trial and error. It can also help reduce printing costs and enable the printing of components that are nearly impossible to achieve today.

“AM Path Optimizer is the latest innovation in Siemens’ end-to-end AM solutions, and one that we feel will have a great impact on the use of AM for powder bed fusion manufactured parts,” said Feuer. “The combination of NX for AM and our Simcenter AM technology within the Xcelerator portfolio provides our customers with key capabilities to assist manufacturers in designing and printing useful parts at scale, which is unmatched in the market.”.


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