The Open Innovation Challenge entered the fourth round in 2018 with an exciting topic: Additive Manufacturing – Disruptive Advantage – ready to print?!
The spotlight was squarely on 3D printing – a trending and forward-looking topic that has evolved enormously over the last few years and caused a great deal of hype. But 3D printing technology is nothing new. Our prototyping team has been dealing with the topic for 20 years now – way back in 1999, the first 3D printer was commissioned at MANN+HUMMEL and is still running on potato starch.
With this wealth of experience, the prototyping team advised us throughout the challenge and we were of course very excited about what innovative ideas the participants would pull out of their hats this time. The stars of the show were two raw material manufacturers, who excelled in various categories:
- The award for the category ‘Best Support’ was won by DuPont, who – with their extraordinary Hytrel® – supply one of the first materials used to manufacture and install a component directly additively, and not indirectly using the pressure of a tool. DuPont will work together with our prototyping department on the additive manufacture of bellows.
- The Innovation Award in the category ‘Best diversity and overall competency’ went to ThyssenKrupp, with whom we will soon be tackling several topics.
We are currently attempting to print segments of tool inserts such that individual parts can be manufactured additively and the remaining insert can be manufactured mechanically, which would save time and money for production.
We are also delving into the topic of ‘end-of-life’ management together, i.e. the issue of how to manufacture replacement parts, for example, if the shaping tool is no longer available because the series has been discontinued. In this case, too, 3D printing is a revolutionary alternative that brings with it many advantages.
With these approaches, we can make the manufacturing process even faster and more agile and draw mutual benefit from our experiences. Jürgen Jenner, Head of Prototyping, is also pleased with the cooperation: “I am very excited about where we will end up after researching together for half or three-quarters of a year. That is what is really interesting, and ThyssenKrupp and DuPont are the perfect partners for us in this.”
We are eager to know the results of exploring new avenues together in the field of 3D printing technology and we are in absolute agreement: the Open Innovation Challenge proved itself a success once again!