Dec 8, 2015 | By Tess
3D printing technologies are beginning to change manufacturing practices at all levels, from individual makers 3D printing objects and tools from their own desktop printers, to companies utilizing the technology for larger scale productions and product development. For some industries, however, additive manufacturing technology has been a bit slower to take. Recently, at this year’s PlastEurasia trade fair in Istanbul, Turkey, Arçelik A.S., one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of home appliances, came out and urged the plastics industry at large to increasingly incorporate 3D printing technologies into their manufacturing processes.
Arçelik’s plea was put forth in the effort to convince other companies in the plastics industry of the potential benefits of 3D printing. The Istanbul based company, which itself currently uses molding processes as its primary source of manufacturing, has begun to recognize the benefits and is shifting towards 3D printing processes for its own manufacturing.
As the company explains, 3D printing technology could effectively open the doors for manufacturing possibilities, as it could allow for designs that would be difficult or even impossible to make using molding processes to be manufactured.
Metin Bilgili, the technical leader of Arçelik’s manufacturing technologies directorate explains, “If we can’t manufacture something with existing technology, 3D printing will [open] up doors for us. The plastic industry needs 3D printing technology.”
Arçelik’s own plan is to take its first steps towards cutting back on mold-based manufacturing by cutting down on individual production steps. Bilgili suggests that 3D printing technology could be the key to this. He says, “You have to make the mold and you have to try the mold and you have to measure the parts, and then you have to bring the mold…in the factory. With this 3D [printer] it is much easier. You have this one machine and you can solve everything with that.”
Currently, Arçelik not only manufactures many of its own molds, but the company buys about 40% of its plastic parts from other plastics companies, which is why it is urging the plastics industry at large to begin adopting 3D printing technologies and practices in a bigger capacity.
Of course, where the technology currently stands, 3D printing does remain a bit too slow for commercial production purposes, though Bilgili is confident this will change in a matter of years. Bilgili, who has visited universities and researchers who are working on developing 3D printing technology, explains, “I have a really big hope about that. They are working on it, but still [the 3D printers] are a little slow. They have to make it faster.”
Once 3D printing technology has been developed to operate quickly enough for Arçelik’s commercial production, the technology could also benefit the company and others like it by facilitating and speeding up product development cycles in consumer goods industries.
Arçelik is Europe’s second largest home appliance manufacturing company, with eight factories in Turkey, and production plants operating in several other countries. The company is continuing to grow as it has announced a new production facility to be opening by the end of the year in Thailand. If the company adopts 3D printing technologies as it has said, it is likely that others will follow in its stead, and perhaps someday soon our very home appliances will be made from 3D printed parts!
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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