Jun 20, 2017 | By Benedict

Back in April, technology company Siemens announced that it would be launching an online platform for on-demand 3D printing. The company has now released further details about the platform, which is due to launch in mid-2018.

Siemens' proposed 3D printing platform will connect businesses from around the world

When Siemens recently announced plans to develop a web-based collaborative platform that would enable on-demand product design and 3D printing production across the global manufacturing industry, many within the 3D printing industry took note. Although Siemens isn’t best known for its additive manufacturing ventures, the reputation and financial muscle of the German conglomerate suggested that the new platform could be something truly significant.

“Today’s announcement builds on [our industry leadership] with a platform aimed at instantly connecting the people, technology, equipment, and expertise needed to efficiently address mutual business opportunities,” said Tony Hemmelgarn, president and CEO of Siemens PLM Software, back in April.

Customers will have to wait for a year before they can start using Siemens’ proposed additive manufacturing platform, but Zvi Feuer, senior vice president of Manufacturing Engineering Software for Siemens PLM Software, recently told Design News a bit more about how the system will work.

In short, Feuer divided the proposed 3D printing platform into three main areas, all of which will offer particular advantages to the varied customers that Siemens expects to welcome through its digital doors. These three areas are additive manufacturing design, part production, and consulting.

Regarding the first area, additive manufacturing design, Feuer said that Siemens’ end-to-end manufacturing software will allow platform members to “take a design and bring it to the world of additive manufacturing by reimagining or reshaping the design so it can be put together in a more manageable way.” This will be particularly useful for businesses exploring their first uses for additive manufacturing.

The second area, part production, will mostly involve connecting businesses who require 3D printed parts with businesses who can carry out that printing process for them. “The platform shares the knowledge we have at Siemens with those who need printed parts and those who make printed parts—real parts, not toys,” Feuer said. “Parts that can be mounted in real products. One of the parts might constrain the landing gear of an aircraft, or it could be spare parts.”

Zvi Feuer, Senior Vice President of Manufacturing Engineering Software at Siemens PLM

Although the rapid growth of the additive manufacturing industry means that is now easier for companies to find relevant 3D printing services informally, Siemens believes that a more formalized system for business-to-business interaction will benefit both the printing service provider and the client.

The third area of the forthcoming 3D printing platform, consultation, will enable industry experts to help businesses “onboard digital printing into their operations.”

Interestingly, Feuer commented that the Siemens 3D printing platform will not be fully open: each of its members (which currently number more than a thousand) will be vetted by Siemens before they are allowed to offer their additive manufacturing services or send requests to other members. “Part of the platform we are building is going to be a certification of the participants,” Feuer said.

But while Siemens has a clear strategy for its 3D printing platform, the company is happy to admit that changes will be made as the company learns more about what its customers want from the service.

“We [are] talking with the potential participants and looking at where the friction is, and we’re going to adjust our plans and build prototypes to figure out the appropriate business model that will work for everyone,” explained Aaron Frankel, senior marketing director of manufacturing engineering software at Siemens PLM.

The 3D printing platform is expected to launch in mid-2018, with those interested in joining encouraged to contact Siemens PLM about early access.



Posted in 3D Printing Service



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