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Heineken taps Ultimaker for 3D-printed functional parts/tooling

May 22, 2019

Ultimaker announced that Heineken is using its solutions to produce a variety of custom tools and functional machine parts to aid in manufacturing at the company’s brewery in Seville, Spain. Using a set of Ultimaker S5 printers, engineers at Heineken now design and print safety devices, tools and parts on-demand rather than outsourcing the job to external vendors, increasing production uptime and saving around 80% in production costs on the parts they 3D print, according to the companies.

“We’re still in the first stages of 3D printing, but we’ve already seen a reduction of costs in the applications that we found by 70-90% and also a decrease of delivery time of these applications of 70-90%,” said Isabelle Haenen, global supply chain procurement at Heineken. “Local manufacturing helps us a lot in increasing uptime, efficiency and output. We use 3D printing to optimize the manufacturing line, create safety and quality control tools, and create tools for our machines which that help us to reduce change over time. I think there will be even more purposes in the future.”

The Sevilla brewery produces several brands of Heineken-owned beers, with production capacity of up to 500 million liters of beer per year. The engineers at Heineken have been utilizing 3D printing for about one year, first using the Ultimaker 2+ and now multiple Ultimaker S5 printers, a larger, enterprise-ready machine. The 3D printing technology was first used for safety applications, but the engineers quickly learned time and cost can be saved by printing custom optimized functional parts for machines on the manufacturing line.

The variety of use cases now include: 

  • Applications to increase the uptime of the production line—Heineken 3D prints functional parts for its machines. Printing the spare parts impacts costs as well as just-in-time availability of the parts. 
  • Optimizing part designs—The team was able to replace various redesigned parts with an optimized design. For example, a metal part used with the quality sensor on the conveyor belt would often knock bottles over, creating a blockage, or eject good bottles onto the ground. The redesigned 3D-printed part prevents this, saving bottles, cost, and time.
  • Tools for quality control and maintenance—Heineken has also created completely new tools that make it easier to perform maintenance or check the quality of products or machines. These tools help prevent machines from breaking down.
  • Solutions to increase operator safety—In order to keep employees as safe as possible, Heineken has designed and implemented the use of parts and tools to prevent accidents. For example, improved locking mechanisms for machines so they cannot start to operate during maintenance.

“Every company has its own unique challenges in the production process, which is why the ability to create custom solutions straight from the factory floor is such a game-changer for the manufacturing industry,” said Jos Burger, CEO of Ultimaker. “Heineken is a prime example of a company that’s utilizing the Ultimaker S5 as an all-purpose manufacturing machine. We have enjoyed watching the use case evolve over the past year, from safety applications to the creation of fully functional parts for machines that lead to significant savings, and we cannot wait to see what they come up with next.”

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