System integrator helps customer with 3-D printing
System integrators and machine builders are integrating 3-D and additive manufacturing (AM) technologies with traditional machine tools. Automation technology integration and machine design are among the challenges they face. Amit Chadha, president and executive director of L&T Technology Services Ltd. (LTTS), answered related questions.
1. Please describe a successful additive manufacturing project.
One of our recent and very successful projects involved a global conglomerate endeavoring to expand its market share in Asia and in other emerging markets. The client was keen to go to market with a globally successful and tested product at a competitive pricing for customers. 3-D printing and AM concepts were identified as the key drivers to achieve this objective of creating differentiation while keeping the costs down for the client. This was a first of its kind project which was previously not attempted before by a major global supplier.
2. What was the scope of the project and goals?
The scope of the project was to launch a globally successful product in an emerging market using state-of-the-art rapid prototyping services. The primary objective to make this a commercially viable venture was to reduce the material weight of the product and sell it at a competitive rate.
3. What types of automation, controls, or instrumentation were involved?
LTTS used multiple tools for this project. Our engineers identified the product requirements, conducted due diligence on market mentality and used the insights to develop the initial idea as sketches. The sketches were then converted into 3-D and using rapid prototyping quickly created scale models of the products. The team did detailed engineering of the line of products and also faster tooling.
4. What were particular challenges outlined in the project?
LTTS had multiple challenges to address during this project. This was a first of its kind project so LTTS had little information to go on, including previous use cases. To solve this, LTTS identified teams to perform due diligence, understand the market mentality and use this data to create initial sketches and prototypes for the client. The team also explored different design ideas to make the product more comfortable to use and moved from an initial two-piece design to a single piece to help keep overall costs in check.
5. How were those issues resolved?
Different teams approached different tasks and worked collaboratively to obtain positive outcomes. The teams worked on gaining market insights, creating initial sketches, rapid prototyping and outlying product research to ensure that the go-to-market launch had maximum impact for the client.
6. Can you share some positive metrics associated with the project?
The project helped reduce product weight by 20%; the more ergonomic product with a soft touch grip allowed the customer to position product on par with competitors without compromising on margins.
7. What were the resulting lessons learned or advice you’d like to share, for your firm or the customer(s) involved?
This project was a learning process with multiple positives. It served as an example of how to help clients go to market in new geographies using 3-D printing. The prototypes designed using 3-D printing tools were then shared with customers to capture the voice of the market.
This project helped us gain insights on ascertaining market mentality, using innovative methods to prototype rapidly, and perform outlying research to improve product ergonomics. Engineers created designs with economy and premium product variants using 3-D printing technologies. Lighter, one-piece products created were commercially rolled out in the emerging markets with a positive response.
KEYWORDS: 3-D design, additive manufacturing, system integrator
System integrator helped with a 3-D design to lower cost and weight.
Teams collaborated to address various project goals.
Additive manufacturing can bring positive changes to product design.
Will design and manufacturing improvements resulting from additive manufacturing advance help you more than your competitors?