A few months ago, additive manufacturing solutions company Stratasys announced a major partnership with global engineering and technology solutions leader Siemens. Now, the two companies are working together again: the Mobility Division of Siemens will be producing customized final production parts, using Stratasys FDM 3D printing technology, for German transport services provider Stadtwerke Ulm/Neu Ulm (SWU) Verkehr GmbH.
Germany-based Siemens Mobility is located in Krefeld, Erlangen, Munich, and Berlin, and develops both vehicle technology and infrastructure for transport machines. Thanks to 3D printing, the division has been able to overcome its prior difficulty in producing one-off customized parts for its customers. For example, the division originally had to purchase tools or machinery to manufacture replacement parts for the rail industry, which takes time and money; the company could only take orders for 10 parts or more, as the production cost was not justified for low volumes.
Now, Siemens Mobility is using a Stratasys Fortus 900mc Production 3D printer to 3D print low-volume, final tram parts in just days, in comparison to the weeks it takes to make the parts using conventional manufacturing methods. Additionally, the Fortus 900mc helps Siemens eliminate unnecessary tooling and inventory costs while still providing the custom parts on demand.
Tina Eufinger, Business Development, Siemens Mobility Division, said, “Our production services for end-use parts have become much more flexible and tailored to our customers’ needs since we introduced the Stratasys Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer into our manufacturing process. Before we integrated 3D printing into production, we were forced to produce higher quantities of parts in order to make the project cost-effective. For small volume part demands from customers, we would store excess parts until they were used, discarded or became too outdated to use. With the Fortus 900mc, we can now create a design that is 100 percent customized to specific requirements and optimized several times before it is 3D printed. This takes our production time down from weeks to a matter of days, and makes it now cost-effective enough to extend our customer service offering to one-off part production.”
Siemens Mobility is using the Fortus 900mc for low-volume manufacturing of 3D printed parts for SWU Verkehr; the company provides transport services, across a total of ten rail networks, in the city of Ulm, including housing covers for what is known as the coupler (cover of the link between two tram carriages), and customized armrests for the driver’s seat. This isn’t the first time the Fortus 900mc has been used to manufacture car parts: Stratasys is the official 3D printing solutions provider for McLaren Racing, and Kor Ecologic used a set of the Stratasys production printers to design and print its Urbee 2 car.
“Customers such as SWU Verkehr GmbH see ‘availability’ as the most important asset to their business – trams and services need to be available and run constantly throughout the day in order for the transport company to be profitable. We at Siemens are regularly faced with this challenge, however the ability to quickly and cost-effectively 3D print customized parts specific to customer requirements enables clients such as SWU Verkehr GmbH to be closely involved in the design and production of its own parts,” explained Andreas Düvel, Siemens Mobility Sales Representative Customer Service.
“Through customized additive manufacturing we are achieving maximum customer satisfaction, as the client is actively participating in the creation and optimization of its parts. This would simply not be possible with mass production.”
In addition to utilizing the Fortus 900mc 3D printer, Siemens is also using special flame, smoke and toxicity (FST) compliant synthetic thermoplastic 3D printing materials from Stratasys to meet the German rail industry’s production parts criteria and fire protection requirements. Not only does this make the parts safe for use, but Siemens can also put the lightweight, durable parts directly into use on the Ulm trams. The company has also expanded its online business branch, so its customers can easily order customized 3D printed parts.
“Siemens is a prime example of how 3D printing can make customized low volume production profitable for businesses – not just for the manufacturer in this case, but also for the end-use customer, the rail industry. With the ability to localize manufacturing and 3D print on-demand, entire supply chains can be redefined with large stocks of obsolete parts no longer required. For the rail industry, the likes of SWU Verkehr GmbH can now work closely with manufacturers to design and optimize 3D printed parts when they need them, ensuring trams are operational and that there is minimal disruption to public services,” said Andy Middleton, President, Stratasys EMEA.
If Siemens Mobility customers need on-demand replacement parts, or require changes to existing parts, they can simply go to the division’s website and make a request; the part will then be 3D printed and delivered. Share your thoughts on this partnership in the Stratasys and Siemens forum at 3DPB.com.
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