Siemens is to invest $36m in a state-of-the-art 3D printing facility in the UK.
The additive manufacturing building will be for Siemens’ 3D-printing specialist Materials Solutions, which it acquired in 2016.
The factory will be located in Worcester in England and is set to open in September. It will allow Materials Solutions to increase its fleet of 3D-printing machines from 15 to 50 and is also expected to create around 55 new jobs, increasing the workforce of engineers, metallurgists and manufacturing specialists to 80.
Siemens owns an 85 per cent stake in Materials Solutions, which is a pioneer in the use of selective laser melting technology for the manufacture of high-performance metal parts, with a focus on high-temperature super alloys.
Siemens said the investment is part of its plans to build and grow a global business of additive manufacturing services.
“Additive manufacturing is a major pillar in our digitization strategy,” said Juergen Maier, chief executive of Siemens UK.
“This significant investment underlines our belief that there is huge potential for innovation and growth within the additive manufacturing sector. It is also the next step towards achieving our ambition of pioneering the industrialisation of this exciting new technology and demonstrates how we are leading the way for the fourth industrial revolution.”
Maier recently led the Made Smarter review for the UK government on behalf of industry in Britain. The in-depth review forms part of the UK industrial strategy and called for much greater national investment in additive manufacturing, arguing it will significantly boost industrial productivity and create new highly-skilled jobs.
Maier added “If the UK’s manufacturing sector is to grow and thrive, we must embrace digital technologies and build new industries based on them. Our vision and ambition for Materials Solutions perfectly represents how we are putting this strategy into practice.”
Phil Hatherley, general manager of Materials Solutions, said: “Our Worcester-based team are specialists in using additive manufacturing technology to solve complex engineering challenges for our customers across a range of sectors including aerospace, automotive and power generation. Our new facility will give us the space and scope to continue to innovate for these specialist and demanding industries and achieve a shift in the perception of 3D printing from being a technology associated with prototyping to a viable option for the serial production of additively manufactured parts.”
Hatherley added: “We were incredibly proud to have achieved a world-first last year – the production of a successfully tested 3D printed gas turbine blade – and I believe our new factory will facilitate similar achievements for our customers operating in other highly demanding environments, allowing us to maintain our position at the leading edge of this incredibly exciting industry.”
UK Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Britain has a proud manufacturing heritage and through our Industrial Strategy the government has set out a vision and plan that will build on this strength and create an environment that enables manufacturers to continue to thrive. The investment being made by Siemens into UK advanced manufacturing demonstrates the confidence businesses have in the strategy.
“Innovation is at the heart of the future of UK manufacturing and this factory will produce a game-changing technology that has the potential to transform the UK’s industrial base, demonstrating industry backing of the approach set out in Made Smarter and making the sector even more productive and competitive in global markets.”
Discussing the new investment today, Markus Seibold, vice-president of Additive Manufacturing at Siemens Power & Gas, said: “About ten years ago, additive manufacturing was mainly used to create prototypes rather than marketable products. Over the last decade, I’ve personally observed groundbreaking progress, especially in the area of 3D-printed metal parts using the selective laser melting method.
“Today, most observers rank additive manufacturing among the essential elements of the fourth industrial revolution. This is easy to understand if we take a closer look at the benefits of this new manufacturing technology. Additive manufacturing can help shorten development and lead time, ease the supply chain, increase production efficiency, reduce costs, improve product functionality, and enable new and ‘impossible’ product designs.”
Seibold said that additive manufacturing “starts much earlier than the actual printing process”.
“The first step is an analysis to determine the parts that additive manufacturing would most benefit, followed by a feasibility study. The next steps are usually to select the appropriate material and create the design of the component using computer-aided design (CAD) software. A prerequisite for printing the parts is automation software for the printer that translates the CAD data for the printer. The printing process is followed by post processing and product tests.”
He added that Siemens was “in the fortunate position of owning all the necessary knowledge and solutions for the entire value chain of additive manufacturing”.
“We started to use additive manufacturing in our work already years ago for rapid prototyping and service. Today, we can look back on 100,000 operating hours of our 3D-printed gas turbine parts. After detailed product analyses, we identified more than 200 components we wanted to produce using Additive Manufacturing by 2022.”
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