“Every company has its own unique challenges in the production process, which is why the ability to create custom solutions straight from the factory floor is such a game-changer for the manufacturing industry,” said Jos Burger, CEO of Ultimaker. 3D printing/additive manufacturing enables those custom solutions.
Heineken is an example of a company that’s using 3D printing as an all-purpose manufacturing machine. Heineken uses the Ultimaker S5 for a range of applications, from the creation of fully functional parts to developing products that improve safety.
The 3D printed parts include a variety of custom tools and functional machine parts to aid in manufacturing at the company’s brewery in Seville, Spain. Using a set of Ultimaker S5 printers, Heineken engineers design and print safety devices, tools and parts on-demand rather than outsourcing the job to external vendors. On-demand production increases uptime and saves around 80% in production costs on the parts they 3D print.
“We’re still in the first stages of 3D printing, but we’ve already seen a 70-90% reduction of costs in the applications and a 70-90% decrease in delivery time of these applications,” said Isabelle Haenen, Global Supply Chain Procurement at Heineken. “The ability to locally manufacture helps us increase uptime, efficiency and output. We use 3D printing to optimize the manufacturing line, create maintenance and quality control tools, and create tools for our machines, which help us increase safety for our people. I think there will be even more purposes in the future.”
The Sevilla brewery produces several brands of Heineken-owned beers, amounting to 500 million liters of beer per year. Heineken engineers have been using 3D printing for about a year, first using the Ultimaker 2+ and now multiple Ultimaker S5 printers, a larger, enterprise-ready machine.
The 3D printing technology was first used for safety applications, but the engineers quickly learned they could save time and money by creating custom optimized functional parts for machines on the manufacturing line. The variety of use cases now includes:
• Applications to increase the uptime of the production line – Machine parts wear and break. By 3D printing replacement functional spare parts on-demand, the company saves money while avoiding operational downtime because there is no need to have an inventory and no need to wait for part deliveries.
• Optimizing part designs – The team learned that 3D printing enables them to redesign these replacement parts, optimizing their function. For example, a metal part used with a quality sensor on the conveyor belt would often knock bottles over, creating a blockage, or eject good bottles onto the ground. The redesigned 3D printed part prevents this, saving bottles, money, and time.
• Tools for quality control and maintenance – Heineken has also created new tools that make it easier to perform maintenance or check the quality of products or machines. These tools help prevent machines from breaking down.
• Solutions to increase operator safety – To keep workers safe, Heineken looked for ways to make smart, 3D-printed tools that prevent accidents. For example, the company has printed improved locking mechanisms for machines so they cannot start to operate during maintenance.