Industrial 3D printers from machine manufacturer Prodways have been selected as the driving force of a project seeking to boost the turnaround of commercial electrical components.
The aim its to incorporate 3D printing into the production of plastic injection molds in Schneider’s product development pipeline.
“Our goal is to use cutting-edge technologies to shorten the product development cycle,” explains Frédérick Choupin, manager of Schneider Electric’s internal model shop OpenLab.
“With 3D printing and agile project management, we’re in a position to overcome the traditional obstacles of long-established processes and market an innovative product 60% faster.”
A multibillion dollar opportunity
Each year, Schneider Electric launches around 400 new products including electric car charging stations, energy meters, circuit breakers and solar panels. In 2017, the company reported revenues in excess of €24 billion ($28 billion USD) and it thanks a strategic time to market focus for a large part of this success.
Under this new 3D printing partnership, Schneider is using Prodways’ trademark MOVINGLight technology to create 3D molds for its electrical components.
MOVINGLight 3D printing
MOVINGLight is a digital light processing (DLP) photopolymerization based technology. It is capable of producing high resolution parts at high speeds from a liquid resin. At Prodways MOVINGLight technology is available for both plastic and ceramic materials. In Schneider’s case, the plastic 3D printers, e.g. the LD, L, and L series D variants, are the best selection for injection mold making.
Over the course of a year, the collaborators have so far developed twenty-five 3D printed tooling molds for Schneider’s OpenLab, which in turn result in hundreds of production-grade injection molded parts. Sébastien Guenet director of Platinium 3D, explains, “With 3D printing, we can produce tooling prototypes in a few hours, modify them immediately based on the needs of the functional tests and then inject final material parts,”
“Thanks to this process, we considerably speed up the new-product development cycle since the final material parts are already certified even before the aluminum production mold is finalized.”
Blazing the trail
Meanwhile, Schneider Electric also invested its efforts in a 3D printed house project at the Technical University of Valencia. Since 2016, Schneider’s Openlab has also been working with Stratasys 3D printer to streamline its production.
In this most recent partnership, Prodways, Openlab by Schneider Electric and Platinium 3D hope to reaffirm their position as trailblazers in France’s 3D printing industry.
Featured image shows closeup of Prodways 3D printer. Photo via Prodways