European multinational company, Schneider Electric, is seeing a significant uptick in efficiency across its tooling operations at their Puente la Reina plant in Spain, after investing in a Stratasys F170 3D printer.
The company is actively implementing its ‘Smart Factory’ project that was designed to increase operational efficiency and reduce costs using Industry 4.0 technologies and is finding Additive Manufacturing (AM) to be an integral component. Rolled out to every factory globally, each plant is challenged to embrace innovation and drive digital transformation.
Recently named winner of the internal European-wide ‘Smart Factory’ Schneider Electric competition, the Puente la Reina plant has been recognized for accelerating the plant’s Industry 4.0 transformation largely due to efficiencies brought about by 3D printing and in particular, the Stratasys F170 3D Printer.
After enabling in-house FDM 3D printing, the plant has saved about €20,000 in the production of assembly-line tools, jigs, fixtures, robot grippers, and other end-of-arm parts, and easily paid off the original investment in the F170. Previously, the parts were outsourced to third-party manufacturers and were made using injection molding or CNC machining.
In the case of robotic grippers produced for assembly-line robotic arms, 3D printing is used to produce an alternative to more traditional aluminum grippers, which are typically costly to replace. Instead of paying 200 euros to outsource production of a machined gripper per tool, 3D printing can yield an alternative for just half the price.
Moving forward, Schneider Electric is exploring more ways to boost efficiency across its plants globally with 3D printing. Notably, they are looking to producing end-use components with high-performance FDM materials.