Additive Manufacturing Customers gain experience before committing to capital costs
Renishaw’s newly opened network of global solutions centres provides ‘try before you buy’ access to the latest additive manufacturing (AM) machinery. ETMM caught up with Marc Saunders, Renishaw’s director of global solutions centres to find out more.
The Renishaw Group is a global engineering and scientific technology company with more than 70 offices in 35 countries. Most of its 4,000 employees are employed in the UK where Renishaw carries out the majority of its research and development, much of it around additive manufacturing (AM) technology.
The company has been at the forefront of developing and producing AM machinery and software packages designed and optimised to print 3D components made from metal powder for the last few years. It recently announced plans to build a network of global solution centres designed to provide interested manufacturers with access to AM machinery, facilities and expertise which they can use to print 3D metal components to their own specification, whilst simultaneously taking a more detailed look at AM systems which they may eventually buy, install and operate in their own facilities.
ETMM: What sort of customers and industries do you expect will use the solutions centres?
Marc Saunders: We are seeing interest in additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D metal parts from a broad range of sectors, including aerospace, automotive, sports equipment, oil and gas, and consumer electronics.
ETMM: Is the idea for customers to lease additive manufacturing equipment/services from Renishaw rather than installing that equipment at their own facilities - essentially an outsourcing model?
Saunders: That’s correct, at least initially. Renishaw’s model is still to sell machines to customers once they have developed a business case. In the meantime the approach is quite simple – provide a facility, machine and support in one of our centres, followed possibly by some pre-production, then transition to the customer making parts themselves. Of course we have some customers that choose to invest in development machines at their premises, and we support them there.
ETMM: What are the benefits for customers in doing that?
Saunders: The benefit is a controlled initial expense in the early stages of evaluating the technology, enabling the customer to gain experience, knowledge and evidence of the impact that AM can have on their products before committing to the capital cost and overheads associated with a machine and their own AM facility.