German technology and electrical engineering giant Siemens has just deepened its investment into the 3D printing industry by opening the first manufacturing facility for the mass production of metal 3D printed components in Sweden. Not only is this the first workshop of its kind in Sweden, but it is also Siemens’ first official foray into the industrial production of metal 3D printed components.
The total investment into the metal additive manufacturing facility, located in Siemen’s industrial plant in the city of Finspång, amounts to roughly €21.4 million.
The metal 3D printing machines in Siemens’ new Swedish facility will be used mainly for the rapid prototyping, rapid manufacturing, and rapid repair of components for Siemens’ series of industrial gas turbines. Currently, approximately 20 employees are on site, ranging from operators to engineers.
"With this investment, we can develop new and improved components and repairs, for example burner tips to serve our industrial gas turbine SGT-800, significantly faster. Using this innovative approach, we will shorten repair times from months to weeks. It is an important step in our ability to respond to the needs of our customers,” said Thorbjorn Fors, global business director for Distributed Generation at Siemens.
Though opening this industrial metal 3D printing facility is a major strategic move for Siemens, it is not the German company’s first encounter with metal 3D printing, nor with 3D printing more generally. Known for developing high tech solutions in everything from trains, to generators to biomedical equipment, Siemens recently revealed that it already using desktop 3D printers for some metal parts manufacturing, specifically in its Rail Automation Department.
This comes as no surprise, as metal additive manufacturing has proven to reduce lead times by up to 90 percent when compared to traditional manufacturing methods such as drilling, casting, and injection molding, all while allowing for more structurally complex and mechanically sound, and durable components than ever before.
In addition to venturing into metal 3D printing, Siemens recently expanded its two-decade partnership with Georgia Institute of Technology to improve additive manufacturing workflow and, prior to that, marked its first-ever entrance to the 3D printing industry by setting up the Frontier Partner Program to facilitate 3D printing startups.
"Siemens is at the forefront in Sweden and the world of additive manufacturing in the development and production of advanced components in the metal to the power industry. This is a step in a long-term investment in this area, where we have not yet seen all the possibilities,” said Hans Holmström, CEO of Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery. “Through this investment, we are building up the skills and experience that can lead to new ideas and developments in the field.”
The news also comes just two weeks after three Swedish Institutions joined forces to improve the national metal 3D printing industry, including Gothenburg-based Chalmers University of Technology, Trollhättan-based University College West and research group Swerea. These institutions' commitment to accelerating the pace of metal 3D printing research, education and information, combined with Siemens’ first of its kind metal additive manufacturing facility in the country, could mean that Sweden is about to become a leading global hotspot for industrial metal 3D printing production and innovation.