ERIKS, founded over 80 years ago, maintains its industry leadership position by embracing cutting-edge technologies. It is now leveraging UltiMaker 3D printers to improve its manufacturing processes and to meet the changing needs of its diverse customer base. ERIKS is a multi-product specialist with over 5,000 skilled colleagues in 15 countries, offering a diverse range of high-quality mechanical engineering components and services.
ERIKS was an early adopter of 3D printing, incorporating it into many aspects of its operations, including jigs and fixtures and production parts. ERIKS emphasises lean manufacturing practices in order to provide more value to customers while using fewer resources, increasing efficiency, and improving quality. What distinguishes the company from its competitors is its commitment to quality and precision, as demonstrated by its decision to use 3D printing in clean manufacturing facilities. Notably, ERIKS achieved a milestone by certifying the workflow for creating food-safe printed parts, cementing its position as a global pioneer.
The Reliability and Longevity of UltiMaker 3D Printers
The majority of ERIKS 3D printers are used for prototyping, creating custom jigs, fixtures, and tooling for production or maintenance. Over time, the company has embraced 3D printing for end-use parts, using a variety of materials to meet specific needs such as heat resistance, food safety, and EMD safety.
Job van de Sande, Head of Engineering at ERIKS, emphasises the versatility of 3D printing, which allows for the creation of flexible or rigid components tailored to a wide range of applications, such as optimising assembly or production processes, quality tools, and safety equipment.
Van de Sande emphasizes the significance of UltiMaker in their 3D printing journey, stating, “We made UltiMaker the platform of choice for FDM 3D printing at ERIKS. Now, we have expanded our fleet of printers to around 25 across 10 different teams in six different countries.”
ERIKS employs various UltiMaker printers across the S series, including the latest UltiMaker S7 3D printer. The reliability and future-proof nature of UltiMaker have been crucial for ERIKS, ensuring that their investment in printers remains viable long-term.
“It’s very important that the printers we buy today are still usable five years from now. And thanks to the constant updates, for example, in firmware, we have been able to still utilize the entire fleet of UltiMaker printers that we bought over the years.”– Job van de Sande, Head of Engineering, ERIKS
A Smoother, Faster, Better Process with 3D Printing
Jan Brabander, Product Manager at ERIKS Industrial Plastics in Ede, the Netherlands, emphasises the importance of 3D printing in their processes, particularly for rapid prototyping and small series production, where cost-effectiveness and speed are critical factors.
“During the development process, we can produce a part to make it easier to show to our production team or customers,” Brabander notes. “We also use 3D printing throughout our processes internally, like production or quality control. For example, tools to assemble products, or to check measurements, or to make our process faster, smoother, and of better quality. We use 3D printing more and more for making end-use parts that are industrial grade and can be used in the machines or in the factories of our customers.”
ERIKS Industrial Plastics specialises in CNC machining and injection moulding, but it also provides 3D printing as a viable option for producing parts based on customer specifications.
Van de Sande explains, “Whether they need an application that is heat resistant, food safe, or EMD safe, 3D printing will work. However, when it comes to more dynamic properties, such as having flexible or very stiff parts, 3D printers can be extremely useful. The Engineering Plastics production facility in Ede is designed to produce food-safe parts in accordance with EC1935 and GMP standards.
Van de Sande presents a bottom-up approach to 3D printing adoption. Teams across ERIKS are encouraged to investigate the potential of 3D printing in their production environments, eventually becoming members of the 3D Printing Expert Group. ERIKS has created a community where experts from various business units and locations come together to share ideas and knowledge, ensuring a comprehensive approach to 3D printing implementation.
The use of Trinckle, a software that provides parametric design and automation solutions, has further democratised 3D printing, allowing a broader range of people who do not have engineering backgrounds to create applications and use 3D printing. The software also includes a number of industry-standard preset fixtures, allowing ERIKS to simplify and speed up the development of 3D-printed applications.
Leveraging UltiMaker Ecosystem
ERIKS has adopted the entire UltiMaker 3D printing ecosystem, leveraging the UltiMaker Marketplace and Digital Factory Enterprise edition to set a standard within the organisation. Digital Factory offers a comprehensive 3D printer management solution, allowing users to prepare, queue, print, and manage their projects remotely. The dependability and constant updates, including firmware and applications such as Cura – the world’s most popular slicing programme – have ensured that ERIKS maintains a fleet of printers that will continue to be usable in the future, as well as allowing the teams to expand 3D printing applications.
Security is a top priority for ERIKS and its customers. The deployment of Digital Factory Enterprise ensures secure operations by keeping systems behind firewalls, while the Cura Enterprise edition enables collaboration with IT partners to ensure seamless tech stack integration. This comprehensive approach has enabled ERIKS to build a large community of enthusiasts and experts, accelerating the adoption of 3D printing.
Design Flexibility with 3D Printing
Brabander points out the benefits of 3D printing, stating, “The design flexibility is a significant advantage. There are less limitations in the production process. Also, it’s very fast.” The flexibility of 3D printing allows for rapid prototyping during development, streamlining communication with production teams and customers. ERIKS strategically chooses between various manufacturing/production technologies, considering factors such as series size, part quantity, lead time, and technical parameters to meet customer needs efficiently, offering 3D printing as a solution when it aligns with the customer’s needs.
As ERIKS integrates 3D printing into more locations, the company anticipates increased cost and time savings, expanding the technology’s applications.
He goes on to say, “The real benefit in our perspective is being able to produce better quality parts faster for our customers.” 3D printing is an excellent choice for specific applications due to its design flexibility and speed.
Scaling up 3D Printing Capabilities
ERIKS’ forward-thinking approach to 3D printing has not only improved internal processes, but has also proven to be an effective tool in meeting customer demands. The reliability of UltiMaker, continuous updates, and a comprehensive 3D printing ecosystem have propelled ERIKS to the forefront of manufacturing innovation.
“With the development of more reliable and repeatable end parts, ERIKS has started to take steps towards aligning it with industry standards and making sure that 3D printing really becomes the alternative or even the preferred choice for new and exciting high-end applications,” van de Sande said.
Van de Sande went on to say, “To scale up our capabilities within ERIKS, UltiMaker has already proven itself to be a reliable and flexible solution.”
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