This article first appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of The Record.
Additive manufacturing has huge potential. It may not only change processes, but it also could transform people’s lives. For example, it could give a little girl with severe strength and motion problems an exoskeleton to help her move more easily.
At Siemens PLM Software, additive manufacturing strikes right in the heart of our business. It impacts the very core of what we are doing and the reason why we’re here: to provide our customers world-class technology so they can develop and build competitive products.
Additive manufacturing doesn’t work miracles by itself. It needs applications, features and functions to support it. This process impacts our entire product portfolio and our entire product lifecycle. This includes design (CAD), engineering (CAE), manufacturing (CAM) and manufacturing operations management (MOM), Teamcenter and manufacturing execution systems (MES).
This is the main reason why we, a company that provides product lifecycle technology, must absorb and understand that additive manufacturing will impact our technology and product lines in the same profound way it will impact our customers.
We need to design tools for facetted and hybrid modeling. These tools need to be able to design lattice structures and technology dealing with multiple materials. In manufacturing, we need to think about adding material instead of subtracting material. In CAE, we have to analyse not only the final part design, but also the process of adding material layer by layer in respect to thermal and structural behaviour
Printers will be standard production equipment in a few years, and they’ll need to be managed alongside traditional equipment. Processes must be automated and jobs need to be executed on these 3D printers. All of this will affect the core of the Siemens PLM Software business and most technology we develop today.
What’s important to acknowledge is that our core differentiators play well into the additive manufacturing space. Associativity between design, manufacturing and CAE is becoming extremely important in the relationship between CAE and CAM. Our CAE technology will be a main differentiator in the end to end process, and the experience we gained in hybrid manufacturing projects helps us understand the printing process.
Leveraging our Teamcenter dominance in the market, we can provide a managed environment for additive manufacturing. And with the integration of the shop floor by means of our MOM and MES tools, we will lead the way from prototyping to real production.
I truly believe in the innovation potential of this disruptive technology. Siemens PLM Software customers will use this technology to create better products faster and more cheaply. Companies will have to innovate to stay competitive. Additive manufacturing has this enormous potential to help companies innovate, differentiate and stay competitive.
The research funds invested into additive manufacturing will substantially accelerate and mature this process. This research will help the additive process evolve and become more easily repeatable.
The focus is now on real industrial use of additive manufacturing. Some people believe additive production will soon outnumber traditional machining – these are the people driving this change.
I want everyone to get as excited and as passionate as I am and get involved with this technology. It will impact our future and your future. This technology will link to what we do, to our products and technology. Additive manufacturing will affect PLM – and we’ll be on the forefront of successfully creating solutions for that.
Andreas Saar is vice president of manufacturing engineering software for Siemens PLM Software
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