German engineering group Siemens said it has launched an online collaborative platform for industrial 3D printing firms to co-create, co-innovate and come up with new business models.
Called Additive Manufacturing Network, the platform will focus on design, engineering skills, knowledge, digital tools and production capacity.
First announced as a concept in 2017, the platform is now starting out with an early-adopter programme.
3D printing solutions firm Stratasys and HP Inc. are partners for the project. Stratasys will support Additive Manufacturing Network with its technology and application expertise and by linking the network with its services division. HP will let network users have access to HP's Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing technology providers, experts, and tools.
Commenting on the partnership, Stratasys said the 3D printing solutions firm and Siemens shared a vision for additive manufacturing to help their clients create better products more efficiently and economically.
Echoing Stratasys, Siemens said, “Collaborating with a vibrant ecosystem of industry leaders and start-ups is a necessary element for building knowledge and speeding up new innovative solutions to scale.” It added, “Our platform provides a unique capability to accumulate, store and re-use knowledge that can be utilised by diverse participants.”
The network rollout by Siemens comes almost a month after the German engineering group decided to invest €30 million ($37 million) to set up a 3D-printing factory in the UK as part of its additive-manufacturing plans to serve aerospace, automotive and other industries.
By using artificial intelligence and inputs from customers, the unit will make customisable car parts, among other things, said automobile news portal Autocar.
The Worcester-based factory, which is expected to start in September, will more than double the company’s fleet of 3D-printing machines to 50.
Siemens also helps companies set up 3D-printing equipment and facilities, said Willi Meixner, chief executive of power and gas at Siemens.
In 2016, Siemens had acquired a majority stake in 3D-printing specialist Materials Solutions. The latter uses Selective Laser Melting to make high-performance parts from high-temperature alloys.
Materials Solutions is expected to make parts for Siemens’ power-generation equipment soon, Meixner said.