GKN Sinter Metals is the world's largest manufacturer of precision metal powder components. Earlier this year, the company launched the InstaAMetal platform using the 3YOURMIND eCommerce infrastructure to provide instant access to their AM resources.
Across many industries, 3D metal production by GKN has been reducing development cycles and enabling new component designs with Additive Manufacturing. Now, instAMetal is adding online ordering and clear communication to spread those advantages throughout functional component production.
InstAMetal has the goal of accelerating the shift to industrial production of Metal AM parts. Now customers to can quickly check their components for printability, to view prices and delivery times, and order components online - 24/7.
On an interview with GKN Sinter Metals' sales director, Markus Josten, explains the advantages of the introduction of 3YOURMIND platform to complement their high standard metal additive manufacturing services.
1. Since 1991, GKN Sinter Metals has been producing and supplying precision metal powder components for all major car manufacturers, machine parts and consumer goods markets. In your experience, Markus, what are the primary advantages that metal AM provides to these customers?
The advantages are clear, small unit volumes can be quickly produced without requiring any additional setup time. 3D production adds design potential by extending the palette of functional integrations and enabling technical possibilities that have never been considered before. In addition, GKN offers a unique combination of extensive experience in metal 3D printing and decades of experiences as a supplier to the automotive and aerospace industries.
2. Why was it important for GKN to digitize their services with InstAMetal? How does moving the processes online simplify production for GKN and for your customers?
We have been searching for additional methods to digitize our sales processes and widen the reach of GKN services to sectors that lack of expertise in this field. This portal is a first step in the digitization of internal processes in pursuit of an optimal supply chain.
3. GKN Sinter Metals is known as the authority in the field of high quality metal component production. What has been implemented to ensure that same quality using a digital platform?
Several years ago, GKN began to digitize the internal control of production processes and quality standards. We have achieved a significant level of optimization of our processes which will be further pursued in the frame of Industry 4.0.
4. The trend in the 3D printing industry is a shift from prototyping to final functional parts as true AM production. GKN has one of the longest traditions of performance-ready metal production. How close do you think we are to beginning Industrial 3D Production?
In our opinion, the industrial revolution has already arrived. Although we have only just begun to 3D print metal prototypes in large quantities, this idea is much older. Industrial 3D print production is the logical next step. To support this aspiration, we have decided to build a center for Series Production using metal 3D printing in Bonn, which will be operational within the 1st quarter of 2018.
5. Do you anticipate that metal printing will take on an increasing share of 3D production? Why is metal becoming the leading technology?
The continuous development and improvement of metal materials brings the benefits of lightweight construction to a variety production aspects and industry sectors. But we shouldn’t make the mistake of underestimating the importance of parallel developments in plastic materials.
6. You have stated before that 3D Printing is the best method to manufacture individual components when you want to avoid a full product launch. And that one of your primary goals with instAMetal was to provide maximum flexibility during product development. How has working with 3YOURMIND allowed you to deploy the right solutions for your customers?
Here it is important to see how complex and expensive production loops are in the current product development process. That is where industrial 3D-printing brings huge benefits through extreme reductions in development cycles and the accompanying cost reduction.
For customers that already have a previous experience with the technology, the instant pricing after selecting a production material is what is perceived as the most important information.
For new customers or strangers to the technology, the analysis function to determine assess manufacturability is the most crucial information.
7. What is the next part of the process that needs to be improved to bring about your 10-year vision for AM?
Since we offer a complete process chain including materials, development, Metal 3D-Printing integrated into series production, we see a complete picture of what is going to required. We need to continue to offer materials that meet the requirements of future applications, while maintaining a high quality despite the larger processing volume. In the near-term, the production will be accompanied by digital processes that allow for continuous monitoring, accelerate decision making processes, and make the entire supply chain more transparent.
- All images courtesy of GKN InstAMetal -