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How Materials Solutions is enabling AM for serial production

Keeping up with the changing pace of industry is an ongoing challenge for many businesses. As Sales Manager of the Materials Solutions additive manufacturing printing facility at Siemens, we have been working hard to pioneer a range of innovative solutions to help our customers become more competitive in the market. One of these solutions has been the industrialisation of the Additive Manufacturing process (AM) to enable the serial production of additively manufactured parts.

The process, which is proving popular with our client base, is one Materials Solutions has been taking an active lead on, helping to revolutionise the design and manufacture of industrial components by working alongside customers and investing in new facilities to support the changing demands of industry.

But what are the benefits of AM and serial production?

Put simply, serial production is helping our customers curate bespoke components in volume, to improve the performance of their parts and solve a range of complex engineering challenges across sectors including aerospace, automotive and power generation. 

Additive manufacturing enables our customers to reduce the development times on bringing parts to market as we are not bound by lengthy lead times with tooling allowing faster design iterations and testing to meet the applications requirements.

Because of the consolidation of parts, AM can also offer significant cost savings too when looking at life-time costs, significantly reducing servicing time. AM parts can also enable better performance.  An example of this can be demonstrated by the work we do for our own Gas & Power division with serial production being utilised to develop bespoke components fit for different fuel types in order to support the performance of our gas turbines. While, the initial cost of parts might be more, this is outweighed by the more efficient running of the gas turbine meaning less fuel is required which is the most expensive aspect of running a turbine.

The highly regulated aerospace sector is also a key industry for the business. As one of the most advanced multi-laser additive manufacturing providers, Siemens is also the only AM provider in the UK which has Nadcap accreditation, essential for working in aerospace. Developed by a consortium of aviation companies, Nadcap represents a fully, defined process to ensure adequate quality control and maintenance.

A journey involving years of learning and discovery, serial production is a process that certainly hasn’t happened overnight. It has taken a lot of time to develop the right methods, specifications and understanding of how the materials function and behave. Working alongside the industrial market, the growing demand for the serial production of AM is clear as businesses become more competitive, requiring higher volume and quality of parts.

As the Materials Solutions business has grown over the past 13 years, so too has our understanding of what our partners need from a supply chain partner. Our expertise in this area, quality accreditation’s and processes allow us to pass our knowledge to industries like aerospace whilst working within their regulatory constraints. Not just makers of shapes and prototypes, our skills and resources mean we are able to perform in a range of complex and demanding environments, helping our customers become more agile and competitive.

It’s certainly been an exciting time for industry, to see the endless possibilities of the technology and in turn the satisfaction of our customers. To support growing demand and the industrialisation of additive manufacturing, we’ve invested in our factory. Equipped with over 23 L-PBF machines (soon to rise to 50) it’s a great place to work and puts us in a strong position to fully service the sectors we operate in.  Importantly, it means we are able to accommodate the increased volume of orders associated with serial production.

Adhering to strict policies and procedures including PPQ (product and process qualification) is also a big part of our quality assurance process. It allows the team to create parts from the inside out incorporating features and design options that traditional casting simply can’t access. This is proving fruitful for customers in more ways than one, increasing speed to market, improving performance and functionality, reducing costs and material waste.  

We won’t stop there though. In a bid to continually innovate and stay ahead of the curve our mission is to continue to push the industrialisation of this technology from lab to serial production by automating high value processes through the manufacturing process such as powder delivery and management and de-powdering.

Our new facility is on track to have a completely digitised production process making use of Siemens Digital Industries automation and software solutions such as RTLS for real time tracking of parts and Preactor for scheduling.

To showcase the latest capabilities in AM, we are attending the TCT show at the NEC Birmingham from 24-26 September. Here we will demonstrate a number of end use components that are in serial production as well as promoting our non-manufacturing services, including training and engineering services.  If you are interested in finding out how AM can help your business, why not pop over and say hello?

For more information contact Chris Barefoot, Sales Manager of the Materials Solutions 3D printing facility at Siemens  email: chris.barefoot@siemens.com