Signify explores benefits of 3D printing for spare parts

Signify is one of the last manufacturers of high-intensity discharge lamps, powerful lamps that are used, for example, in football stadiums or as a floodlight for buildings. To this end, it has its own production facilities, in which additive manufacturing plays an increasingly important role in the production of spare parts.

Additive manufacturing is on the rise everywhere. Also lamp manufacturer Signify, formerly Philips Lighting in Turnhout, is becoming increasingly interested in the technology. The great inspirers are designer and buyer Rudi Lodewijckx and mechanical designer Danny Van der Jonckheyd. They work together as a close-knit team. Rudi knows what 3D printing can do, he knows which materials exist, in plastic or metal, knows their properties and knows which suppliers to call in. This knowledge enables him to spot opportunities for 3D printing within the company. Danny can translate these opportunities into technically feasible projects. Rudi and Danny followed Sirris’ Design for AM masterclass.

Contemporary benefits

Although Signify Turnhout is still sceptical about 3D printing today, the ever-growing list of successful 3D projects is surprising and convincing more and more people. Various metal parts have already been printed that are at least as strong as conventionally made parts, sometimes even stronger.

The technology also offers a suitable solution for spare parts that are no longer available. And 3D printing also allows you to significantly reduce your warehouse space. When there is a digital version of a part, it is no longer necessary to have it physically in stock. This will reduce the stock and avoid the need to buy and store unnecessary extra spare parts (often in larger quantities), which may prove to be unusable in the long term if the machine is changed.

Furthermore, 3D printing is a more eco-friendly technique, as it does not use large blocks of material, which require a lot of energy and generate a lot of waste during processing; 3D printing only uses the material that is needed. The technology also makes it unnecessary for the parts to travel long distances: additive manufacturing can in fact achieve the same quality for the cost at any location, which saves time and transport.

3D printing allows for making the parts much lighter because, unlike conventional machining techniques, it starts from the idea of how the design can support the functionality of the part, achieving the right strength where necessary.

Snowball effect 

The evolution towards 3D printing went gradually at Signify, from the production of casting moulds to replacing missing moulds to optimised design of parts in more suitable materials. In order to maximise the chances of success, more knowledge and expertise in additive techniques was required, therefore both Rudi and Danny followed the Design for AM masterclass organised by Sirris on a regular basis. During the masterclass a quartz burner was successfully redesigned. Meanwhile, several of these printed burners are in use: the problems with the previous burners are a thing of the past now with the printed burners. The operators are so satisfied with it that they don’t want others any more.

Other parts have also been redesigned for 3D printing, using different materials and 3D scanning is also used for redesigning parts. Signify already has several digital parts in stock and they continue to search for new parts that can be produced more efficiently or optimally thanks to 3D printing.

The projects carried out so far have all proved their worth: the components are stronger, more efficient, have a longer lifespan, etc. In this way the warehouse becomes emptier, less time is lost in production standstills and replacing parts that break down quickly, thus reducing costs. Gradually, more and more employees become convinced and come up with their own ideas. They also give presentations within the company, including to other sites, about how to redesign parts for AM. In this way, more and more ideas and proposals for redesign are emerging coming from the production of technicians and managers.

Do you want to know what switching to additive manufacturing can mean for your product or process? On 24 April and 21 May 2019 Sirris is organising another 'Design for Additive Manufacturing’ masterclass, where you can acquire the knowledge and insights, required to design components specifically for AM. It will allow you to enjoy the benefits immediately. Do you want to find out more about the setup of the masterclass? Read more in our agenda!

(Source picture : Signify)