The Oslo School of Architechture and Design (AHO) is an internationally renowned university and research institution focused on industrial design and architecture. The university has a rich history of using additive manufacturing as part of its curriculum and within its pioneering research in the field.
With an increasing demand for its additive manufacturing technologies from students and external users alike, the university’s AM department needed an efficient way to manage its request handling and production management processes. So how is AHO using AMFG’s automation software to achieve this?
Overcoming manual, time-intensive processes
AHO has a wide range of additive manufacturing technologies, including several SLS, FDM and SLA machines, enabling the preparation, printing and post-processing of 3D models. The department also has an arsenal of smaller 3D printers at its disposal, including a number of Ultimakers, with which students are able to print their own projects.
With such a large number of AM systems and incoming requests, the university’s AM department needed an efficient way of processing these orders, as well as streamlining the overall production process.
“We’ve been looking for a way to automate our academic workflows for projects requiring additive manufacturing services for some time,” explains PHD Fellow, William Kempton. “For example, we were looking for a system that could allow us to handle 3D models and communicate directly with those who send in files.”
Before, AHO students would either have to manually take their STL files to the AM department on USB sticks or send them via email. A member of staff within the department would then inform them of the cost and send the files to production. This process was manual and time-intensive, particularly as the files included complex architectural models, making the manual data checking process even more laborious and time-consuming.
Another challenge AHO experienced was tracking the status of each incoming request, making it increasingly difficult to gain transparency across the workflow.
The AHO team was therefore looking for workflow management software that could efficiently process incoming requests, allow staff to communicate key details to users and track the production process at every stage.
Automating the AM request and production process
The solution came in the form of AMFG’s automation software. After integrating AMFG into its systems, the AM department was able to make use of the software’s online web portal to enable students and other users to place requests in a matter of minutes.
Now instead of manually handing over or sending STL files, users can upload their files directly through AMFG. The software then automatically conducts a file conversion to STL if necessary and conducts auto-analysis and repair functions, such as wall thickness checks to ensure that the file is optimised for 3D printing. This process delivers considerable time savings, particularly when verifying complex 3D models.
The web portal also allows users to receive automated quotations based on the department’s unique pricing formula. Once the request is received, the department is easily able to track the production status and delivery of the part.
Another benefit for AHO is that staff are now able to communicate with users of the platform directly using AMFG’s email integration feature. This helps AHO’s AM department streamline their communication processes, enabling all communication tasks to be done within the platform itself.
A streamlined, automated workflow
For AHO, implementing AMFG has had outstanding results. Students are now able to easily send the requests through the platform and receive instant pricing and delivery information. Users can also access their request history via their account, and the department can track the status of each order.
With a streamlined, automated system in place, AHO’s AM department now enjoys greater transparency, enhanced communication, improved efficiency — and the ability to process far more orders. Thanks to AMFG, the department can now make much more use of its extensive AM facilities and provide additional support for its ongoing research into the field.
The university now plans to digitise all of its AM workflows to continue delivering innovative, state-of-the-art projects.
“The transition to using AMFG rather than manually checking and printing CAD files has been incredibly quick, and staff and students alike regularly comment how much easier the process has become,” says William Kempton. “We’re looking forward to exploring the possibilities this has opened up in the years to come.”
Images courtesy of AHO.