The Critical Role Of Am In Industry 4.0.

The Critical Role Of Am In Industry 4.0.

Additive Manufacturing (AM) Is A Technology That Is Becoming Increasingly Important To Grundfos And Has Been Refined For The Production Of Advanced Prototypes And Sophisticated Components During The Last Decade. We Aim To Mature AM For Future Production, Allowing It To Be Scaled Into High Volume Production Of Complex Applications. This Is Made Possible Through Broad Collaboration Across Business Functions And Customer Interaction.

One example of this can be found in a number of our factories, where small desktop FDM printers placed locally have started a revolution when designing and manufacturing grippers, jigs, and fixtures. Today injection molding tools are designed with conformal cooling to reduce cycle time and improve part quality and machine utilization. All these initiatives improve our competitiveness by reducing time to market and driving down the cost of products. Our vision, however, goes beyond this.

Conventional production methods have been refined to be very cost-effective for high volume production, but the manufacturing lines' complexity makes them rigid and investment sensitive. We foresee that AM will disrupt the industry with new product offerings by interacting and co-developing with our customers in more convenient and agile ways. 

Utilizing AM enables a flexible production where smaller series can be manufactured costeffectively. The freedom of design opens a whole new methodology of designing components and applications. Part consolidation and system integration reduces complexity and improves robustness and performance.

In Grundfos, we prioritize sustainability and see opportunities in designing energy-efficient solutions on demand. If, for example, a pump is being operated sub-optimal to its pump curve, it could be at the expense of energy efficiency or, in the worst-case, damaging the pump due to cavitation. A sustainable solution to this challenge could be tailoring the hydraulic design to the duty point. In this way, design on demand can enable energy savings, and product life is potentially extended, adding significant customer value.

AM offers a world of opportunities. Servicing a product often requires dedicated tools designed for the exact product. With AM, we have explored the possibilities of tailoring tools to ease the service of our products. We have successfully launched a service kit for our dosing pumps consisting of two parts manufactured with SLM and SLS. AM was the ideal choice due to complexity and cost. Furthermore, AM enables distributed manufacturing close to our customers.

To further continue the journey towards mass production using AM, we are building up capabilities internally. To fully achieve the potential of AM, a profound understanding of the processes is essential. Tailoring process parameters and materials to optimize a given application can significantly improve the part quality and production throughput.

Our goal is to base quality on process data supported by simulation. Extracting and analyzing data from the printers reveals if the parameters are within the optimal process window. This enables us to make adjustments while printing, reducing the risk of scrapping parts. Simulation software provides crucial insights to understand the processes. For example, analyzing porosities in the metal parts or simulating warpage and thermal defects. We are also focused on the simulation of post-processes, for instance, the sintering of Binder Jetted Metal parts to predict and compensate the printed parts for volumetric shrinkage and warpage.

The door to the future is open, but there is still much land to explore.

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