Those outside of the distribution world can sometimes take it for granted, but supply chains and logistics are intricate systems made up of many relationships and agreements and constrained by budgets and technical possibilities. H. Gautzsch Firmengruppe, a German B2B distribution services company, understands this better than most. It also understands the potential of AM to open up new possibilities in its business and is further exploring the benefits of it by leveraging Sinterit’s SLS 3D printing technology.
It is no surprise that additive manufacturing has the potential to transform supply chains and distribution strategies. Thanks to the technology’s digital nature, on-demand manufacturing capability as well as its agile production scale, AM is becoming an increasingly interesting option for distribution companies, especially as they embrace Industry 4.0 innovations.
At H. Gautzsch Firmengruppe, 3D printing has been of interest, and the company operates an in-house AM Lab, which relied initially on filament extrusion systems. More recently, however, the AM Lab team reached out to a local AM supplier, SLS3D, to acquire an SLS system—Sinterit’s Lisa 3D printer.
Peter Benthues, Member of the Gautzsch Executive Board, explains: “Gautzsch went to SLS3D, a business unit of Additive Manufacturing Germany GmbH & CO. KG, a top AM supplier and knowledge hub in Hannover, for ideas on establishing an AM hub. SLS3D was able to determine the best course of action and ordered a Lisa to complement the FDM machines in the lab.”
Sinterit’s SLS platform was particularly interesting to the company because of its open nature, which accommodates custom materials and is well suited for application development and experimentation. The printer also has the advantage of being one of the most affordable SLS solutions available, allowing the company to exploit SLS’ high quality prints without the hefty price tag. “The Lisa is one of the few economically feasible solutions in the first stages of any AM strategy,” Benthues said. “At lower volumes, it is a perfect solution.”
Gautzsch was also pleased to discover that the installation of the Lisa 3D printer was straightforward. “It didn’t require any extra ventilation and occupies less floor space than a typical office scanner/printer,” Benthues added. “With the addition of the Sinterit Lisa to its AM Lab, Gautzsch is able to experiment with a variety of parts currently in their offer. They can explore the feasibility of local vs international supplies and gain an insight into the products that will likely move to AM in the near future. Thus knowledge is invaluable when designing the distribution networks of the future.”
One of the key uses for 3D printing in the distribution company will be to produce spare parts on demand. For example, Gautzsch intends to use 3D printing to produce spare parts for Sienna Garden, an outdoor furniture brand, especially for products that are no longer in production. This in turn will improve the company’s customer satisfaction and sustainability: with spare parts made on demand, the furniture products will have longer lifecycles.
In the end, Sinterit’s Lisa 3D printer has proven to be the perfect entry point for Gautzsch into SLS 3D printing. Not only was the 3D printer an affordable option for in-house printing, but Sinterit has provided a wealth of knowledge to its customer. “For a company at the beginning of an investigation, support from and discussion with the technology experts is extremely beneficial,” said Benthues.
Maxime Polesello, CEO of Sinterit, added: “Sinterit is a company that prides itself on knowledge sharing, it has positioned itself to enable the next generation of SLS innovations through open research and development. We look forward to supporting the innovators at Gautzsch in the future and are excited to see their developments.”
This article was published in collaboration with Sinterit.