Additive manufacture is the biggest wave in an ocean of industry 4.0 innovations. The future of international manufacturing and supply chain is facing some uncertainty driven by the flexibility of AM. Especially SLS (selective laser sintering) technology displaces other forms of 3D printing such as FDM in terms of quality, and SLA in strength and material price. Products are no longer only feasible in batches of a thousand parts and production plants can shrink to the size of a kitchen. AM enables companies to return their production to local suppliers and even in-house AM hubs. This next evolution in manufacture will disrupt the way products are distributed.
Additive manufacturing is a new opportunity for distribution companies
Distribution is an art form. Complex agreements, logistics, and relationships, governed by business and technical limitations… a tricky balancing act for some… business as usual for German distribution giant, H. Gautzsch Firmengruppe. Large distributors like Gautzsch will be the first to experience the disruption in manufacturing methods due to additive manufacture on a large scale.
Can the innovators at Gautzsch use Additive manufacture to excel with new capabilities? Peter Benthues described how their in-house AM Lab is exploring the latest AM trends.
“Gautzsch went to ‘SLS3D’, a business unit of the AM Germany GmbH & CO. KG a top AM supplier and knowledge hub in Hannover for ideas on establishing an AM hub. SLS3D was able to determine the best course of action and ordered a Lisa to compliment the FDM machines in the Lab.” – says Peter Benthues.
“Adding the printer to the Lab was simple, it didn’t require any extra ventilation and occupies less floor space than a typical office scanner/printer. With the addition of the Sinterit Lisa to their AM Lab, Gautzsch is able to experiment with a variety of parts currently in their offer. They can explore the feasibility of local vs international supplies, and gain an insight into the products that will likely move to AM in the near future. This knowledge is invaluable when designing the distribution networks of the future.” – adds Peter Benthues.
Open SLS platform is a key to success
SLS is a growing opportunity for producers and new technologies within SLS are constantly developing. One of the key requirements of Gautzsch to effectively investigate SLS is an open platform. The Sinterit Lisa has the flexibility of custom materials. While many industrial alternatives have financial and warranty limitations, the Lisa provides a suitable environment for experimentation.
“The LISA is one of the few economically feasible solutions in the first stages of any AM Strategy. At lower volumes, it is a perfect solution.” – says Peter Benthues
Replacement parts on demand
Another opportunity to excel as a distributor of their own product range, replacement parts, has revealed itself as they carry out AM research. Sienna Garden, Germany’s leading garden furniture brand has products that last much longer than their production cycle. After many years of satisfying customers in the outdoors, the occasional replacement part may be needed. By sourcing these parts using AM, Gautzsch adds flexibility, increased customer satisfaction, and decreased maintenance costs. The high demand of their users for sustainable and durable products can be more economically achieved with an effective AM solution.
Inhouse SLS system for better executive decision making
At the early stage of the AM investigation, Gautzsch has two paths to go down. Either develop the ability to print in-house at an increased initial investment, or build a partnership with a service provider which opens a can of worms regarding intellectual property and data security. Buying into the technology with a LISA will allow Peter to enter the next evolution of business with the critical experience that allows him to make better executive decisions
“For a company at the beginning of an investigation, support from, and discussion with the technology experts is extremely beneficial.” – sums up Peter Benthues.
“Sinterit is a company that prides itself on knowledge sharing, it has positioned itself to enable the next generation of SLS innovations through open research and development. We look forward to supporting the innovators at Gautzsch in the future and are excited to see their developments”. – says Maxime Polesello, Sinterit’s CEO.
Sinterit now offers the widest range of materials available for compact SLS 3D printers. As for April 2021 it has eight different powder types in the portfolio. This diversity and the accessibility of Sinterit’s SLS 3D printing solution make it one of the most desired professional additive manufacturing products in 2021.