Factory Focus

Schneider and Stratasys join forces and look to the future

Schneider Electric has teamed up with Stratasys, the additive manufacturing solutions company, to include 3D printing into its manufacturing processes for both short and longer term efficiency goals. Schneider is using a combination of Stratasys and FDM-based 3D printing for its product development, prototypes and industrialization. The company’s vice president of transformation and industrialization, Sylvain Gire, said via press release that consumers should expect around 400 new solutions in 2017, heightening the urgency of time-to-market reduction via new technologies.

These tech advancements have come in the form of Stratasys’ 3D printing solutions, applied to Schneider production operations in Grenoble, France. Gire claims immediate savings have amounted to 90 percent in both time and money since the collaboration began.

Two major factors in these savings are the substitution of 3D printed injections molds for prototyping designs instead of aluminum, and a more efficient design and engineering of assembly line tooling. According to Gire, the cost of producing injection mold inserts used for prototyping designs has dropped from 1000 to 100 Euros after replacing aluminum with the 3D printed versions. These benefits also extend to Schneider Electric’s mechanical design and engineering department, which is tasked with the production of assembly, control and adjustment tools for its diverse product range. This has seen the company utilize Stratasys 3D printing to produce prototype jigs and fixtures to validate the ergonomics and functionality of the final assembly tools.

“We are increasingly using 3D printing to design and engineer assembly-line tools for validation – thereby saving time in the production of the final tools,” explains department manager, Yann Sittarame.

Yann and his team can now reportedly produce new manufacturing tool prototypes in just one week. In the past, it would have taken at least three weeks to produce the same tools using conventional CNC machining, which amounts to a substantial time-saving of approximately 70 percent.

“This technology has changed the way we work and changes the way we think about doing things in the future,” he adds. “Looking ahead, we plan to 3D print the final tools, which is perfectly achievable given the accuracy and durability of our 3D printing process.” According to Gire, Schneider is firmly committed to its goal of creating the “Factory of the Future” and sees Stratasys as a key partner and enabler to realize this.

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