Though it is still September, the Bavarian tradition of Oktoberfest kicked off this weekend, bringing together men and women from all over the world to drink beer and don lederhosen and dirndls. The event also saw participation from GE Additive’s Customer Experience Center in Munich, which put together a fun video showing how its metal AM processes could be used to 3D print an Oktoberfest beer stein.
As seen in the video, Matthew Beaumont, head of the Munich CEC, drops and breaks his glass beer stein and sets out to re-engineer and 3D print a new one. The AddWorks team at the GE Additive CEC works with Beaumont to rethink and redesign the beer stein and ultimately use a titanium and stainless steel additive manufacturing process to create a new and improved prototype.
Speaking to Beaumont about the project, he explains that the idea to do something fun for Oktoberfest was first suggested only a few short weeks ago by a member of the CEC team. “We quickly zeroed in on the idea to 3D print a beer mug,” Beaumont explains, adding that a key part of the project was finding ways that additive manufacturing could be leveraged to improve or update the existing mug design.
“We wanted to keep the look and feel of the traditional style of the mug, so that it would be recognizable as a typical Bavarian beer stein,” he tells me. “So we wanted to have some design elements that were reminiscent of that but at the same time take advantage of what additive can offer us. The underlying goal around that was that we wanted to make sure that the 3D printed mug was lighter than its glass counterpart.”
In the end, Beaumont continues, the GE Additive team was able to shave off about 100g off the total weight without utilizing all optimization features. “We think that for next year’s Oktoberfest, we can come up with a second model which will be even better,” he adds.
Another aspect of how the team updated a traditional beer stein was through the integration of a double wall and lattice structure. Beaumont says: “If you look very closely on the mug, in some places it has a double wall where the diamond pattern is. We have a lattice structure in between those two layers of the mug, which is something that wouldn’t be possible using any other type of manufacturing.” (This feature—though it hasn’t been tested—could theoretically help keep the beer inside the mug colder for longer.)
In terms of how it was manufactured, the beer stein was 3D printed using GE’s Concept Laser M2 cusing Multilaser systems. Using the DMLM metal AM technology, a set of eight (two per print run) beer steins were printed using a food-safe stainless steel alloy (316).
The impressive beer vessel, which is admittedly more fun than anything, showcases GE Additive’s metal AM process, from design to post-processing within the spirit of Oktoberfest. As Beaumont explains:
“It was a really quick process, which highlights the speed you can achieve from idea to physical part with AM. That’s really something we wanted to highlight in our video. It really was a super fast turnaround and the flexibility that we have with this technology is fantastic. That’s what we want to show off to our customers and a wide base of potential customers who might not have fully considered the technology up until now.
“I think Oktoberfest is something that is now universally recognized and, with us being here in Munich, we wanted to do something special to tie into the event. It was also just to let people know we’re here in Munich and we have a fantastic site here that they can come and visit to get engaged with GE Additive.”