Materials Solutions Ltd – A Siemens Business, based in Worcester, UK, has opened a new state-of-the-art metal Additive Manufacturing facility aimed at driving the industrialisation of Additive Manufacturing. The new facility is the result of a €30 million investment and will enable the growth of the business by doubling the capacity of AM machines to fifty, while also increasing the company’s post-processing capabilities.
The company stated that it is now taking AM “out of the traditional research laboratory into an industrialised production factory.” At a press day attended by Metal AM on December 13, 2018, it was stated that since Siemens’ initial decision to invest in AM in 2009, and subsequent acquisition of Materials Solutions in 2016, it has moved beyond the production of AM parts which could feasibly be produced by casting, into the production of parts for which AM is the only production technology – this, stated Markus Siebold, VP AM at Siemens Power & Gas, was the “point of no return” on the company’s AM journey.
“If in the beginning one of the challenges was how to get our designers to change their mindset to design for AM,” added Vladimir Navrotsky, CTO Siemens Power Generation Services, “there is now no way we could convince them to return their mindset to conventional design.”
Materials Solutions already has extensive experience serving customers in the aerospace, power generation, automotive and motorsport sectors, as well as tooling and processing. During the event, Phil Hatherley, General Manager, Materials Solutions, stated that the company has manufactured thousands of functional parts to date, as well as providing legacy parts through reverse engineering and tooling, to more than eighty customers worldwide.
The new factory has a footprint of 4,500 m2, housing multiple metal AM machines on the shop floor, including an EOS M 300-4 system on a pilot customer basis, and a Renishaw RenAM 500Q. Parts move through a variety of processes at the facility, with engineers ensuring compliancy throughout. The factory also employs many of Siemens’ latest digital factory and AM technologies, including an end-to-end product lifecycle management (PLM) chain, Siemens NX software, and MindSphere, a cloud-based Internet of Things (IoT) operating system that connects products, factories, systems and machines through data analytics.
By drawing on Siemens’ design experience, Materials Solutions is now offering various design services for AM, including engineering and consulting for the creation of a digital twin for an additively manufactured component. Willi Meixner, CEO of Siemens Power and Gas Division, stated, “Siemens is the only company with such a comprehensive portfolio for driving the industrialisation of AM. Built on the foundation of our global Siemens R&D and manufacturing footprint, the new facility is a huge step in pioneering the industrialisation of high-end AM.”
“Combining the full power of Siemens with the strengths of Materials Solutions offers unique and proven technologies for our in-house gas turbine business and for external markets and industries. We already have a significant number of core AM components in our portfolio,” he concluded.
Siemens’ metal AM technology has been validated through in-house application in the company’s Power and Gas Business. It has been additively manufacturing hot rotating parts for use in its gas turbines for some time, and stated that it has now gathered more than 110,000 hours of engine experience with AM gas turbine parts in fully-operational power plants.
Materials Solutions is also supporting Siemens’ latest HL-class gas turbines with the serial production of metal AM components to drive emission reduction and increase the performance of gas turbines. Siemens will use its AM technology to manufacture combustion components for the SGT5-9000HL gas turbine, and these will reportedly be employed for the first time by Scottish-based energy company SSE plc at its plant Keadby 2 in Lincolnshire, UK.
“Whether it’s materials, machines, processes, or the digital value chain, we’re always pushing the boundaries of technology,” stated Markus Siebold, Vice President AM at Siemens Power & Gas. “Printing components for gas turbines means the highest material and technology requirements. If you can print a gas turbine blade, you can print pretty much anything.”
“The end-to-end software and automation solutions – combined with our comprehensive expertise and our large printer fleet – makes Siemens a world leader in industrialising Additive Manufacturing, driving productivity, and getting complex 3D printed parts right the first time,” he continued. “We’re in the unique position of being able to leverage our advanced user expertise to bring these solutions to external customers via Materials Solutions Ltd.”
Siemens recently applied its AM technology and engineering solutions to restore a one-hundred-year-old Ruston-Hornsby car to working order. By reverse engineering the broken steering box in the original vehicle using 3D scanning, Siemens digitally reassembled the part and created a working model for metal Additive Manufacturing. The company also scanned and reverse engineered the corroded ‘imp’ mascot on the car bonnet to produce a copy in-line with the original appearance.