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Exclusive: inside OECHSLER’s AM facility for series production

A special inside look from the OECHSLER Open House 2023 which gathered partners and professionals from the AM industry

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Now in its second edition, the OECHSLER Open House event gathers the firm’s partners, and professionals from the AM industry, including engineers, media representatives and C-level executives. This year’s event was held at OECHSLER’s facility in Brodswinden, just a few minutes away from the firm’s HQ in Ansbach.

Founded in 1864 in Ansbach, Germany, OECHSLER specializes in the production of various parts from the world’s leading brands. In 2017, the company entered the additive manufacturing market with a well well-defined strategy for scaling production. Fast forward to today: OECHSLER runs one of the worldwide largest AM facilities and is leading the way in series production using AM and its yearly open house event represents a unique opportunity to see these capabilities up close.

The event started with a session of networking alongside fine food & drinks at standing tables: the guests sat down to listen to interesting presentations held by engineers and executives from a range of different firms, all of which are connected to OECHSLER’s AM operations. In this article, we’ll present a summary of the presentations that took place live, on the stage set up inside OECHSLER’s AM production facility, during the Open House event.

OECHSLER’s General Manager, Matthias Weißkopf, opened the event greeting and welcoming the audience.

OECHSLER’s AM business

OECHSLER had its eye on the potential of AM for a long time. Then the company decided to define a detailed strategy fully enter the AM market and make this technology shine at its best. In 2017 the AM initiative at OECHSLER was launched. Fast scaling of production capacity followed, first with 68 production 3D printers in Germany, and later with further expansion and an even larger production facility in China, making OECHSLER an important player in the AM industry. As of now, OECHSLER has one of the biggest and most modern AM facilities in the world and is planning to continue driving the impressive growth we’ve seen so far.

OECHSLER’s AM production is currently heavily focused on lattice structures. World-famous examples include midsoles for Adidas, backpack cushioning for Jack Wolfskin, protective cushioning for NFL helmets, as well as lattice structures for car seats used by Porsche AG.

A special inside look from the OECHSLER Open House 2023 event which gathered partners and professionals from the AM industry

The demand for 3D printed parts for specific applications is growing. This trend is highlighted by the fact that OECHSLER alone additively manufactured 1.3 million parts last year. That was achieved by using 4 different technologies, including resin machines from Carbon and  Multi Jet Fusion machines from HP. Altogether, OECHSLER currently operates around 150 AM printers globally.

Open House Event Summary

During the Open House event, visitors had the chance to meet each other during breaks from presentations, but there were also guided tours of OECHSLER’s AM facility, which was an attraction on its own. Throughout the day, multiple speakers took the stage and presented what they were doing with AM.

Davide Sher – CEO & Founder at VoxelMatters

The event started with Davide’s opening speech covering the plan for the day and providing interesting exclusive insights into the AM industry. Here at VoxelMatters, we have created one of the largest databases for the AM industry, enabling us to do quality market research and publish corresponding reports covering different segments of the AM industry. The results of the market research we conducted were presented to the audience, highlighting an $8.5 billion, hardware-driven global AM market, growing by 19.8% in 2023 to $10.2 billion.

Andreas Knoechel – Head of Program Management – Additive Manufacturing at OECHSLER

The first speaker of the day, Andreas, presented the dedicated Program Management developed at OECHSLER over the past 3 years. He created a worldwide product strategy using 3D printing technology based on lattice structures. During his time at the stage, Andreas gave insights into OECHSLER’s strategy and the current state of the AM business offering manufacturing services from lot-size-one products to large-scale production. He explained that a quick scaling-up strategy enabled OECHSLER to keep up with demand and fulfill their initial ambitions for AM.

A special inside look from the OECHSLER Open House 2023 event which gathered partners and professionals from the AM industry

Keith Kirkwood, Senior Product Management Materials at Carbon

Keith held an interesting presentation about Carbon’s materials, explaining the benefits of the lattice structure, especially when used in sportswear. As we have seen in previous cases, especially in footwear, the lattice structure can return more energy than a standard midsole, meaning that the shoes can provide a better response. Kirk also talked about Carbon’s upcoming developments.

Tobias Hild, CEO at SQLab

Tobias introduced us to his company, SQLab, which is a manufacturer of advanced biking accessories with a strong focus on “Made in Germany” products. After the successful launch of the 6OX Infinergy® ERGOWAVE® active saddle, other saddle models manufactured in Germany are now following. 3D printing plays an important role at SQLab in both prototyping and production. Tobias explained the smart design features including geometry specifically designed to reduce pain for genitals, as well as the ability of the saddle to slightly tilt left and right to optimize comfort.

Ed Davis, Strategy Director, Digital Manufacturing & 3D Printing Ecosystems at HP

Davis is a 3D Printing technology and industry expert. He led the investigation team and co-invented HP’s 3D Printing Multi Jet Fusion Technology, and he is a Co-founding member of HP’s 3D Printing Business. During his 20 years at HP he has built a diversity of experience, which was clearly shown in his brilliant presentation explaining the reality behind comparing 3D printing to injection molding.

Ed said that instead of calling 3D printing the revolutionary technology that will eventually eliminate injection molding, we should be calling it a complementary technology that can show its strength in a hybrid manufacturing concept, meaning that printing is used to bridge the production in times when supply chain breaks or injection molding can’t yet be financially justified. He continued to explain that once the production via 3D printing is set and demand increases, it’s easy to switch to injection molding and achieve price-per-part efficiency.

Martin Back, Managing Director at BASF Forward AM

As an experienced global CEO/CFO, Martin has been responsible for rapid growth and €180 million sales volume while leading large organizations. An economist by training he knows the manufacturing industry by heart and combines strategic thinking with a pragmatic go-getter approach.

During his presentation at the OECHSLER Open House, he made it clear that in order to succeed in additive it’s necessary to have a strong team that stays together and works towards a longer-term goal. Furthermore, he explained how they’re encouraging their customers to send them their waste material since they can recycle it and create a sustainable circular economy in the AM industry.

A special inside look from the OECHSLER Open House 2023 event which gathered partners and professionals from the AM industry

Mario Meszaros, Senior Development Engineer, Mechanical Construction at Knaus Tabbe

Knaus Tabbert is one of the leading manufacturers of motorhomes, caravans, camper vans and CUVs in Europe. Brands include KNAUS, TABBERT, WEINSBERG, T@B and MORELO which offer recreational vehicles for every taste and in every price category.

Mario, who held the presentation, is a mechanical engineer by profession and has talked us through the internal 3D printing lab they use at Knaus, which isn’t big, but it is sufficient for prototyping. Mario also mentioned the potential for customization that additive manufacturing could offer, especially for their luxury, high-end motorhomes.

A special inside look from the OECHSLER Open House 2023 event which gathered partners and professionals from the AM industry
Dominik Heinzelmann, CEO & Founder at hTRIUS.

Dominik Heinzelmann, CEO & Founder at hTRIUS

hTRIUS develops and sells the latest generation of exoskeletons. Their mission is to provide relief for physically demanding employment. hTRIUS are characterized by well-thought-out and smart systems, which will soon be used across the board and physically relieve people whose work requires a lot of standing time. The firm’s CEO Dominik Heinzelmann held a rather unique and very insightful talk. The audience also got the chance to see him wearing the exoskeleton, which served as a live demonstration.

Andreas Schultheiss, Managing Director at Rapid Shape GmbH

Rapid Shape is an innovative and leading solution provider of specialized 3D printing systems for dentistry, hearing aids, jewelry and industrial markets. With headquarters and production in Southern Germany, Rapid Shape operates globally and in close cooperation with sales, material and technology partners to develop industry-specific products.

Andreas introduced the audience to Rapid Shape and highlighted the importance of automating the whole production process, especially the part removal and post-processing stages. Furthermore, he pointed out the significance of being able to print during the whole day and night, which is why Rapid Shape machines come with a system that pumps resin into the resin vat to ensure production continuity even when no technicians are being present during the night.

Click here to get access to all keynotes.

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Leo Greguric

“Leo is a founder of 3DGlobe - a Croatian 3D printing company which specialises in selling 3D printing equipment and providing a professional 3D printing service. He started his 3D printing journey while still in high-school. It started with writing blog posts about 3D printing and selling a few hobby machines, and later grew into a business which serves professional customers from various industries. Leo is passionate about tech and manufacturing in general, so 3D printing was a perfect field which merged both of his passions. Currently he’s pursuing a degree in electrical engineering at FER - Croatia’s Faculty Of Electrical Engineering and Computing. As a former skier, Leo loves spending his time in the mountains, and he’s a passionate petrolhead, too.”

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