欧洲跨国公司施耐德电气目前正在进行转型。该公司成立于1836年，正在其整个业务中实施工业4.0技术和运营，以提高运营效率并降低客户成本。在其位于西班牙纳瓦拉的Puente la Reina工厂中，3D打印是使施耐德电气过渡到智能工厂的技术之一。
European multinational Schneider Electric is currently undergoing a transformation. The company, founded in 1836, is implementing Industry 4.0 technologies and operations across its entire business to increase operational efficiency and reduce customer costs. At its Puente la Reina plant in Navarra, Spain, 3D printing is one of the technologies that is enabling Schneider Electric to transition to a Smart Factory.
The Spanish facility is now utilizing Stratasys‘ FDM 3D printing technology throughout its production process to streamline workflows and improve overall efficiency. The technology has proved especially impactful in improving tooling operations, even leading the site to win the European-wide Smart Factory Schneider Electric competition. The award recognizes the plant’s use of additive manufacturing to improve tooling production, leading to time and costs savings and streamlined supply chains.
自从施耐德电气从当地经销商Pixel Sistemas收购Stratasys F170 3D打印机以来，工业级系统已成为其西班牙工厂的主力军，生产流水线工具，夹具，固定装置，机器人夹具和其他臂端零件。以前，这些零件的生产已外包给第三方制造商，并使用注塑成型或CNC加工制造。通过切换到内部3D打印，该设施节省了大量资金。据该公司称，印刷部门每年生产一百多种生产工具设计。
Since Schneider Electric acquired a Stratasys F170 3D printer from local distributor Pixel Sistemas, the industrial-grade system has become a workhorse at its Spanish factory, turning out assembly-line tools, jigs, fixtures, robot grippers and other end-of-arm parts. Previously, the production of these parts was outsourced to third party manufacturers and were made using injection molding or CNC machining. By switching to in-house 3D printing, the facility has saved a significant sum. According to the company, the printing unit produces over a hundred production tool designs a year.
Schneider Electric 3D prints support tool and upper tool of its hand presses
“在过去的一年中，使用Stratasys FDM增材制造，仅在流水线工具的生产上，我们就节省了约20,000欧元，这很容易就能收回我们在F170 3D打印机上的原始投资，” Manuel Otamendi解释说，施耐德电气的Puente la Reina工厂全球供应链的工业化和维护经理。 “使用这项技术，我们能够在一天之内生产出新的高性能生产工具，而以前将相同的工具外包至少需要一周的时间。这将极大地减少我们对供应商的依赖，并赋予我们对工具生产的更多控制权，从而增加了制造过程的整体灵活性，并加快了许多产品的上市时间。”
“In the past year, using Stratasys FDM additive manufacturing we’ve achieved a saving of about €20,000 in the production of assembly-line tooling alone, which has easily paid off our original investment in the F170 3D printer,” explained Manuel Otamendi, Industrialization and Maintenance Manager of Global Supply Chain at Schneider Electric’s Puente la Reina plant. “With this technology we’re able to produce new high-performance production tools in just one day, whereas it would have taken at least one week to outsource the same tools previously. This crucially reduces our dependency on suppliers and gives us much more control over tool production, which has increased the overall flexibility of our manufacturing process and accelerated our time-to-market for many products.”
One area where 3D printing has made a significant difference is in the production of robotic grippers for assembly-line robotic arms. The technology is now being used to produce alternatives to more traditional aluminum grippers, which are costly to replace. For instance, a machined gripper ordered from a third party manufacturer would typically cost about €200 per tool. Using 3D printing, the gripper can be replaced for about half that cost.
Otamendi说：“模具中的铝制零件在碰撞时会破裂，而且更换时会损坏，这种情况并不罕见。” “为避免这种情况，我们现在可以用3D打印替代品替换昂贵的机器人手臂铝制夹具。 3D打印工具不仅提供与传统工具相同的机械性能，而且重要的是，当模具碰撞时，它可以确保保护更昂贵的铝制零件。如果3D打印工具损坏，我们可以在数小时内快速3D打印低成本的替换产品。”
“It’s not uncommon for aluminum parts of the mold to break when they collide, and when they do, be very expensive to replace,” said Otamendi. “To circumvent this, we are now able to replace costly aluminum grippers for robotic arms with 3D printed alternatives. Not only does the 3D printed tool offer the same mechanical performances as the traditional tool, but importantly it ensures protection of more expensive aluminum parts when the molds collide. Should the 3D printing tool break, we can quickly 3D print a low-cost replacement within hours.”
3D printed assembly-line tool designed to hold switches during production process. Made from ABS.
With the successful implementation of AM, the Schneider Electric Puente la Reina plant is now investigating other ways in which 3D printing can be used to improve efficiency. Notably, the company is looking beyond tooling applications to the possibility of producing end-use components. Overall, the company believes that AM has an important role to play in its transformation towards Industry 4.0.
Yann Rageul, Director Manufacturing Solutions EMEA at Stratasys, concluded: “As we work our way through the global pandemic, we’ve seen clear indications that additive manufacturing can play a key role in enhancing the traditional supply chain and conventional production lines. As business leaders seek to reoptimize their operations, we expect to see an increase in company’s adopting the technology at a strategic level such as Schneider Electric, who continue to successfully drive digital transformation across the business. Not only does additive manufacturing enable them to increase flexibility within production and reduce dependency on suppliers, but it also opens up the ability to make significant operational efficiencies across product development. While this may be a common objective for most businesses, the impact of COVID-19 has amplified its importance even further.”