Würth Industry North America (WINA) and Baker Hughes (NYSE: BKR) announced that they will partner to provide design and additive manufacturing (AM) services in a range of industries including oil and gas, renewable energy, Power generation, shipping, automotive, and aerospace. The program is part of WINA’s larger strategy for digital inventory and 3D printing.
The North American subsidiary of the German Würth Group, WINA, announced its partnership with Markforged earlier this year. The company uses Markforged Metal 3D printing and continuous fiber reinforcement 3D printing technologies to provide 3D printing services to build a digital inventory for its customers. The Würth Group itself is one of the largest German private companies with annual sales of EUR 14.27 billion in 2019, over 78,000 employees and over 400 companies in 86 countries. It is also the world’s largest fastener distributor.
With 2018 sales of $ 22 billion, Baker Hughes is one of the largest oilfield services companies in the world, providing oilfield services and products, as well as turbomachinery and digital solutions. Baker Hughes, for his part, has a complicated relationship with an additive giant: GE. In 2017 the company was merged with GE Oil & Gas before being sold again in September 2019. GE now owns less than 37 percent of the company.
Outside of its role as a GE company, however, the company has extensive 3D printing experience with over 450 3D printed parts in production and more than 25,000 3D printed components. Among the items that have been printed are drills made by a combination of Directed Energy Deposition (DED) and casting, where DED is used to add material to a cast core. Other parts include nozzles and inserts for aeroderivative turbines made using metal powder bed (PBF) melts. The company relies on devices such as the Lasertec 65 DED system from DMG Mori, EOS, SLM Solutions and Renishaw PBF machines. Baker Hughes has also explored 3D printing copper heat exchangers and sub-assemblies made with PBF, as well as multi-material sub-assemblies made with DED.
In other words, two very great forces are united in this partnership. Baker Hughes will now have access to Würth’s base of over 80,000 customers. One of the first customers the duo will work with is none other than NASA. Baker Hughes uses a combination of directional energy deposition and machining to customize and print a NASA design for use in wind tunnel testing.
“Working with Baker Hughes expands our offering in 3D printing and beyond,” said Dan Hill, WINA CEO. “Our existing inventory programs achieve a degree of automation without changing the infrastructure, and we can implement our customers’ ideas from prototypes to small series production to mass production at accelerated rates.”
Würth will offer the energy giant’s additive manufacturing services so that they can produce parts as required. In addition, Baker Hughes’ digital inventory will be provided to enable customers to move to cloud storage of digital designs rather than physical storage in warehouses. This is based on machine learning algorithms, as well as previous maintenance records, production forecasts, and other documentation that enable Baker Hughes to select parts that are best suited for 3D printing. In return, they can digitize the articles and produce them if necessary.
“More than ever, industrial companies are looking for innovative manufacturing solutions to reduce lead times, eliminate inventory and reduce the company’s carbon footprint. We believe additive manufacturing plays an important role,” said Scott Parent, chief technology officer of digital solutions at Baker Hughes. “By combining our advanced design and additive manufacturing capabilities with Würth’s global customer base, we can expand the scope and scope of our services outside of oil and gas. We look forward to taking this opportunity and changing the future of work. “
This development signals the maturation of additive manufacturing into a truly industrial technology. Where once the space was dominated by stalwarts like Stratasys and 3D Systems, the field is increasingly dominated by GE, HP and Siemens. Now that Baker Hughes and Würth are in the mix, the 3D printing industry is becoming a standard tool in the larger world of manufacturing.