Gerhard Schubert GmbH is a global leader in the design and manufacture of high-performance packaging machines. Their top-loading packaging machines are considered the best on the market, widely used in manufacturing plants by brands like Nestle and Ferrero to automate the packaging line.
Developed over a period of 50 years, their top-loading packaging machines are created using robust and simple mechanics, intelligent control technology and a high level of modularity, with the latter achieved by manufacturing sets of tools which enable each top loader to handle different products.
With the help of a new tool, for example, one of Schubert’s top loaders can package a chocolate rabbit while another can package a toy car. The modularity is endless and limited only by the capability to make a new tool.
To ensure their customers can package their new products Schubert works with them to produce tools that will meet their packaging requirements (when a customer wants to produce a new product, they can simply send it to Schubert who will then manufacture the tool they need and programme the machine).
Utilising 3D printing
Because Schubert receives so many new product requests, they are constantly developing new tools for their packaging machines. And while some tools are reusable or modifiable due to similar product specifications, due to their complexity many have to be developed from scratch to maximise machine efficiency.
Using 3D printing gives Schubert design freedom and enables them to iterate prototypes quickly. They have also been able to greatly reduce manufacturing complexity, because a tool which once consisted of more than 200 parts can be created in a single print. This not only saves time and money; it also reduces weight and reduces the chances of a tool failing because less parts = less to go wrong.
Schubert’s 3D printer of choice is the Ultimaker S5 as part of the Pro Bundle, which includes the Ultimaker S5 printer, Ultimaker Air manager and Ultimaker Material Station, with the latter two additional pieces of equipment unlocking 24/7 productivity. If you’re new to all this, be sure to read our Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle guide.
Creating a digital warehouse
Of course, the process of customers physically sending Schubert products and waiting for them to manufacture the right tools is inefficient.
So, Schubert created an online digital warehouse which enables their customers to order a wide variety of tools themselves and 3D print them in their own workshop in-house — so long as they also have an Ultimaker printer.
The biggest challenge of such a service is that Schubert must be able to guarantee a certain standard of quality for parts, even though they are being made elsewhere.
To achieve this, they have standardised the equipment required (an Ultimaker 3D printer) and they share print jobs with all settings and preferences built in, rather than pre-sliced 3D models. This has helped ensure a very high success rate per part.
Schubert chose the Ultimaker S5 because it can print a wide variety of materials and is designed to run 24/7 reliably. The build speed is up to < 24 mm³/s and the nozzles have a temperature range of 180 – 280 °C with a 2-minute heat up time, allowing new tools to be printed quickly without waiting around.
The Ultimaker S5 also has swappable print cores which enable you to switch between different material combinations. These are designed to run continuously, on multiple cycles, to boost manufacturing capability and output.
When Schubert’s clients need new tools or parts, they can now browse this online library that functions like a digital warehouse and immediately print what they need. This process has slashed lead times for parts and has helped Schubert’s customers bring products to market faster and maximise the uptime of their production line.
It’s important to point out that Schubert only share print jobs with customers – not the print designs. This is to protect their intellectual property. They also use a secure encryption box, GS.Gate, to create a secure data transfer connection.
With 3D printing, Schubert has slashed production costs and development time and brought a higher level of simplicity to the tool design process. A tool which once consisted of more than 200 parts can be created in a single print which has revolutionised workflow. Tools can also be lighter and more reliable than ever before.
With the ability to iterate on parts much faster when compared to traditional production methods, Schubert has been able to meet the growing demands of their customers and boost their own production capacity to its highest level. With the help of 3D printing, they are ready for whatever the future holds.
3D Printers: Ultimaker S5
Materials: Multiple. Discover Ultimaker filaments.
This information is derived from that published on the Ultimaker website. If you enjoyed this case study, you can find more like it at our engineering and manufacturing page.