AMS Spring 2023

Injection Molding Firm Oechsler Doubles Down on 3D Printing with HP and AMT Expansion

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Oechsler AG is a Germany-based, leading global supplier of polymer solutions that has been operating for over a hundred and fifty years. The company was also an early adopter of additive manufacturing (AM), and has had a strategic partnership with HP (NYSE: HP) since 2020. The collaboration is devoted to developing AM applications for a wide variety of industries that Oechsler already has a larger foot in with conventional manufacturing methods.

Oechsler is now announcing that, rather than just one of many offshoots of its main division — injection molding — the company plans on AM being its “second major business area,” and is taking a few key steps to make those plans a reality. First off, Oechsler will be ramping up its AM operations to include serial production, using its arsenal of HP Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) printers.

To that same end, the company has consolidated its AM operations at its location in Ansbach-Brodswinden, and has made a multimillion-dollar investment into expanding the AM facilities there. The expansion will increase the space devoted to AM production by over 8000 square feet; two additional areas of over 1600 square feet each, one for measurement and another for quality assurance, will also be part of the expansion. Finally, Oechsler will also be making an investment exceeding a million dollars into Additive Manufacturing Technologies (AMT), so that the latter can develop automated post-processing solutions for the former over the next year and a half.

In a press release, Oeschler’s CEO, Dr. Claudius M. Kozlik, said, “Polymer-based additive series manufacturing has established itself as another innovative production technology at Oeschler. We are already realizing veritable high-volume projects in the key industry of automotive, sporting goods, medical technology as well as manufacturing with our globally more than 150 installed 3D printers. Thanks to the expansion of our site in Ansbach-Brodswinden and the fully automated end-to-end post-processing by AMT, we will be able to offer our customers an even broader technology portfolio in the future.”

This is a significant announcement for multiple reasons. That a company with such a lengthy history is planning to make AM its second most important area of focus indicates how far the industry in general has come. Moreover, because Oechsler has such a weighty track record, similar companies will be less hesitant to scale up their AM divisions to series production in the near future. This should be true, especially, in sectors where Oechsler is strong, like automotive and sporting goods.

We also see reiterated here how crucial post-processing is for the leap of using AM for mass production. And, presumably, mass production is the ultimate place a development like this is headed in the long run. The timeline of a year-and-a-half for AMT’s post-processing solution suggests that once Oechsler starts with serial production, it will scale that production up further from there. It will be interesting to see how announcements like this one play out ahead of the deadlines for previous announcements coming to pass — such as the announcement by Volkswagen from about a year ago, that it wants to 3D print 100,000 car parts a year by 2025.

Images courtesy of Oechsler.

We also see reiterated here how crucial post-processing is for the leap of using AM for mass production. And, presumably, mass production is the ultimate place a development like this is headed in the long run. The timeline of a year-and-a-half for AMT’s post-processing solution suggests that once Oechsler starts with serial production, it will scale that production up further from there. It will be interesting to see how announcements like this one play out ahead of the deadlines for previous announcements coming to pass — such as the announcement by Volkswagen from about a year ago, that it wants to 3D print 100,000 car parts a year by 2025.

Images courtesy of Oechsler.

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