INTERVIEW: John Kitchingman, MD EuroNorth at Dassault Systèmes at Farnborough International Airshow

Increasingly, terms such as on-demand manufacturing, Industry 4.0 and the industrialization of 3D printing crop up in conversations, presentations and press releases.

With aerospace often at the forefront of additive manufacturing, it may well be expected that this sector would be a good place to look for indications that 3D printing is maturing.

The industrialization of additive manufacturing

During Farnborough International Airshow I met with John Kitchingman, MD EuroNorth at Dassault Systèmes. Our discussion was to cover how Dassault Systèmes (DS) and clients are using additive manufacturing in practice, how DS products fit into the AM workflow within the aerospace vertical and how the developing DS Marketplace (and on-demand manufacturing) relates to aerospace and generally industrial 3D printing.

Kitchingman was keen to highlight how the DS 3DEXPERIENCE platform sits at the core of many of the aforementioned themes.

A case study showing the design to manufacture process of a Thrust Reverser Unit (TRU) was intended to illustrate this point. Working on an Airbus assignment at National Institute for Aviation Research within Wichita State University, collaborative tools on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform and application of 3D printing enabled the delivery of the TRU in 84 days, rather than one year.

Airbus Thrust Reverser Unit and Dassault Systemes project. Photo by Michael Petch.
Airbus Thrust Reverser Unit and Dassault Systèmes project. Photo by Michael Petch.

Kitchingman explained that while clients were unlikely to change mindsets overnight, software tools can go someway to “bringing people together from different disciplines” and challenging them to think differently.

The 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace

We also discussed the recently launched 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace. Bernard Charlès, Vice Chairman and CEO of Dassault Systèmes, has said that Marketplace, “transforms the supply chain into a value chain: a single, virtual, social enterprise, pioneering a new way to do business, innovate, and create value in industry.”

Currently Marketplace has ten pilot users. Joby Aviation, a relatively recent entrant into the aerospace market, is one of those early users. Joby used Marketplace to reach over 1,000 companies providing additive services, through the platform they were able to get quotes and negotiate.

In the video below Joby Aviation engineer Alec Clark discusses how his company used Marketplace.

The Euronorth MD tells me that there are “at core about 1,000 bureaus on Marketplace.” However this figure can ebb and flow, depending upon whether a bureau is interested in participating on a particular project.

In terms of Industry 4.0, Kitchingman believes “Industry 4.0 is ready.”

“We’re piloting many things at the moment,” he says “we need to understand the business processes that need to change, let’s look at the KPIs.” 3DEXPERIENCE is used by DS internally and has been used to determine where growth opportunities can be found.”

Toward the end of our conversation Kitchingman brings up the term Industry Renaissance. He talks about clients who are worried about an aging workflow and how to ensure that years of knowledge and process know-how is not lost.

The workforce of the future will need to move beyond digitisation with training a specific area that must change drastically. He acknowledges that the intersection of automation and employment is an area subject to a great deal of fear mongering.

Possibly due to this climate, “too much of Industry 4.0 is about digitizing the past”. This approach is described as like a “comfort blanket” whereby 30 years of manufacturing and process history might be digitized – a problem similar to the way Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) is yet to be fully embraced.

You can read more 3D printing news from Farnborough International Airshow 2018 here.

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Featured image shows John Kitchingman MD Euronorth Dassault Systèmes.