Siemens opens facility for 3D printing metal components
Siemens has opened a production facility for metal 3D printed components in Finspång. The investment of around 200 million Swedish Krona (€21.4 million) is the first step in the company’s plans for the mass manufacture and repair of metal parts with additive manufacturing. Siemens already uses rapid prototyping as a standard procedure and rapid repair in some commercial applications. This is a long-term investment to build up skills and experience to lead to new ideas and developments in the field.
The facility features Direct Metal Laser Sintering machines from German AM leader, EOS, which cost around $850,000 each. Electro Optical Systems was founded in 1989, and diversified into laser sintering of thermoplastic powders in 1994. EOS currently believes metal 3D printing has the biggest potential, particularly in aerospace and medical, and consequently, is focussed on the development of their metal 3D printing portfolio. EOS machines are already being used for the mass production of medical implants and flight critical parts in aerospace, including by GE Aviation. IDTechEx's research for its report 3D Printing of Metals 2015-2025 predicts around 1000 of these types of 3D printers will be sold in 2016, with a total market value of $540M.
Siemens is looking to develop new and improved components for the industrial gas turbine SGT-800 significantly faster, and shorten repair times from months to weeks. 3D printing can be used to shorten design and technology validation, reduce manufacturing and repair time, integrate the design and manufacturing process, reduce the number of manufacturing steps, allow new materials, reduce quantity of material used, reduce cost, regionalise support, and reduce spare part inventory.
The workshop will employ 20 operators and engineers and will be used for rapid prototyping, manufacturing and repair of components in Siemens’ series of industrial gas turbines, for the power industry. Gas turbines are technically challenging to produce. They are complex and require broad knowledge in materials science, automation, and manufacturing. They must withstand high temperatures (up to melting point of iron), rapid temperature changes (up to above 1000ºC in seconds) and high centrifugal forces as blade reach sonic speeds. 3D printing allows lattice structures with better heat transfer and fuel mixing, better coating adhesion, and new alloys. Siemens have demonstrated lattice structure in blades, fuel strainers and compressor impellers.
For more information, see the IDTechEx research report 3D Printing of Metals 2015-2025 (www.idtechex.com/3dmetals).
Rachel Gordon is a Technology Analyst for IDTechEx
IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery
After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022.
Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery.
Lingering Concerns Over COVID
Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high.
Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery?
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Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”.
Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”.
Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.