Orion is a Finnish pharmaceutical company and a globally operating creator of well-being that develops, manufactures and markets medicines and active substances used in medicines for humans and animals. Working with 3D Formtech, Orion has gained cost savings, efficiency and completely new opportunities. This is because industrial 3D printing can be used to create shapes and surfaces that are not even possible in traditional production methods – at least not without increasing costs.
The employees at the Orion plant in Salo pack several hundred different pharmaceutical packages on seven different production lines. Each product has its own packaging size and type, which is why product-specific components were needed for the packaging lines. Previously, the only option to get components was to order them ready-made from tool manufacturers and equipment suppliers with delivery times of up to 2–3 months.
Orion’s Technical Manager Antti Niemi, says, “At Orion, we followed the general development of 3D printing and decided to see whether we were at the point where we could use 3D printing in industrial production.”
Orion chose 3D Formtech because it was convinced by 3D Formtech’s competence and know-how. Niemi states, “3D Formtech visited us at the beginning of our collaboration to tell us more about the possibilities industrial 3D printing offers, and they also built completely unique prototypes for us. We soon discovered that the same components that were traditionally made with injection moulding could be made with 3D printing.”
WHAT ALL CAN YOU DO WITH 3D PRINTING?
According to Niemi, Orion needs a variety of tools and wear components for various processes. With 3D printing, they can now be produced faster and more cost-effectively than before. He says, “The cost of one product-specific component has dropped to less than a tenth with 3D printing – so we really save a lot. The delivery time has also decreased from 2–3 months to about a week. This speeds up production lead time significantly and is tremendously efficient.”
Not only can spare parts, auxiliary tools and wear components be produced faster, 3D printing can also solve phenomena that have not previously been possible to solve with simulation tools alone. 3D printing offers thus completely new ways of doing things and makes operations even more efficient.
“The benefits of 3D printing culminate in cost savings, fast production and delivery times, operational efficiency and enabling things that traditional production methods do not offer. We are also able to avoid production interruptions better, because the spare parts in malfunctioning equipment can be replaced in just a few days. We don’t have to wait for them from the equipment supplier in Germany. Not only that, 3D printed prototypes can be used to test our equipment even before deployment and, consequently, we can ensure that it will work when we start producing the actual products,” Niemi continues.
Orion has gained many advantages, both financially and in efficiency, with 3D printing compared to previously. According to Niemi, however, having the right partner to actively help and give support, as well as offer new ideas, is key.
“I feel 3D Formtech is a real partner whose expertise is so valuable that we shouldn’t even consider making 3D prints ourselves. Right from the start, they gave us a really good idea of the different possibilities available and good ideas for development, for example, on how to do things even more efficiently. We have been active enquirers and have always received support and answers to even difficult questions. They also always keep us well informed on everything!
“The materials 3D Formtech uses are high-quality and versatile, and since they have received regulatory approval, the 3D printed components can be used for parts that come into contact with products. The order-to-delivery process works particularly well, and we always receive the offers quickly – even within a few hours of submitting the invitation to tender,” Niemi says.