Published - May 28th, 2019
Heineken, one of the largest global producers of beer, has implemented 3D printing at their brewery in Seville, Spain, to increase uptime and efficiency. For over a year, Heineken has tried and tested 3D printing with the Ultimaker S5. Ultimaker is an investment of NPM Capital.
Employee safety is the top priority within Heineken, and they first designed improved safety latches, which are used during machine maintenance. These are applied to almost all the machines in the brewery. When the machines are stopped, these latches will be locked, preventing anyone from accidentally starting a machine while someone is doing maintenance.
The latches are printed in bright red to ensure their visibility. This application was not only useful, but the extra safety feature created awareness and appreciation of 3D printing among employees.
After the initial success of the safety latches, other 3D printed application opportunities were identified. Ideas were investigated, and new parts designed. The first of these was to print spare parts that had proven difficult to replace. Outsourcing discontinued parts or importing them is expensive and time-consuming. The team immediately saw that 3D printing these not only saved time and money but was also able to print plastic parts which could function as structural replacements for metal parts.
Ultimaker’s range of materials has proven useful to Heineken Spain. Many of the printed parts will endure stress, high temperatures, moisture, or numerous impacts over a long period of time. That’s why having the right materials for applications is so important.
Heineken Spain makes use of a variety of Ultimaker materials such as Tough PLA, Nylon, and semi-flexible material TPU 95A. These materials have excellent mechanical properties to withstand the wear and tear of the manufacturing line. Tough PLA is often used for pushers and tools, while Nylon is used for parts that need to function with metal parts. TPU 95A’s flexibility is ideal for bumpers and protective parts.
After using Ultimaker S5 printers in Seville for a year, Heineken considers the pilot project a success. The results of increased employee safety, lead time, and cost reduction of all printed parts have added to that.
By 3D printing functional end-use parts for the manufacturing line on-demand, Heineken was able to optimize the functionality and on time availability. By adjusting the design of functional machine parts, Heineken has increased line efficiency. The custom tools have made performing maintenance and production changeovers considerably easier and faster for employees.
On average, Heineken sees the delivery of all the required parts is on average 80% faster than external sourcing. The costs of a printed part versus a historically sourced part are also on average 80% lower.