Schneider Electric Plans Factory of the Future with Stratasys 3D Printers
Schneider Electric is a French multinational corporation that specializes in electricity distribution, automation management and the production of installation components for energy management. With innovation and progress at the core root of the company’s culture, Schneider is constantly finding ways to increase efficiency and streamline their processes. To help meet this goal, they invested in Stratasys’ 3D printing technology across its manufacturing operations in France. Now, Schneider Electric uses a combination of both Polyjet and FDM 3D printers from Stratasys to create the factory of the future- where lead times and costs are drastically reduced, resulting in unprecedented business growth.
3D printing technology enabled Schneider Electric to usher in a new wave of improvements in product development, prototyping and industrialization. The combination of dramatic financial savings and a greatly enhanced workflow with Stratasys’ systems contributed to the company’s manufacturing efficiencies and reduced the time-to-market in key areas. VP of Transformation-Industrialization, Sylvain Gire writes, “This year, Schneider will launch around 400 new solutions, which is more than one a day . . .therefore it is critical that we adopt technologies that help us reduce time-to-market.” One particular area that has directly seen the efficiency benefits of 3D printing is in the production of injection mold inserts used to print functional end use parts. The company was able to reduce the cost of producing injection mold inserts by a whopping 90% with 3D printing, an aluminum insert costed the company 1,000 euros per item but only 100 euros for a 3D printed mold. These improvements carried on into cutting down production time as well. Gire adds, “manufacturing the prototype molds in aluminum necessitates – in some cases – a lead time as much as two months, but with Stratasys 3D printing solutions, the whole process is completed within a week . . . that’s a roughly 90% time savings, which would be unfathomable with any other technology.”
Injection mold inserts are only one example, the benefits of additive manufacturing extend into various other departments at Schneider Electric such as mechanical design and engineering. Stratasys’ 3D printers allow the company to produce parts without the need for outsourcing, heavily reducing costs and time. Department Manager Yann Sittarame cannot speak more highly of the Stratasys Connex multi-material 3D printer he uses to produce manufacturing tool prototypes. Where in the past it would take at least three weeks to produce a tool using conventional CNC machining, the Connex 3D printer allows Sittarame and his team to print one in just one week- a massive time-saving of around 70%. “This technology has changed the way we work and changes the way we think about doing things in the future . . . looking ahead, we plan to 3D print the final tools, which is perfectly achievable given the accuracy and durability of our 3D printing process” explains Sittarame.
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