​GE, Stratasys, SAP push 3D printing, additive manufacturing

GE Additive opened a customer experience center in Munich. SAP makes SAP Distributed Manufacturing generally available. And Stratasys and Siemens hook up to make rail parts on the fly.

It's happening: Big manufacturing firms embrace 3D printing

A trio of technology players highlight how additive manufacturing and 3D printing is gaining favor in various industries as the ecosystem of partners is built out.

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On Monday, SAP said it has launched SAP Distributed Manufacturing, an application, designed to integrate 3D printing into the manufacturing workflow. The application was developed with customers.

SAP Distributed Manufacturing weaves in 3D printing companies, services and materials providers into the supply chain. SAP Distributed Manufacturing also supports the quote-to-contract process. SAP also said it expanded partnerships with HP and Jabil Circuit to integrate 3D printing into the supply chain.

More: How GE is using 3D printing to unleash the biggest revolution in large-scale manufacturing in over a century (PDF version)| Bioprinting bones and muscles: The inkjet cell printers shaping the future of transplants

Meanwhile, GE Additive said it would create a customer experience center in Munich to highlight additive manufacturing. GE invested $15 million to launch the Munich center, which adjoins its Global Research Center. Additive machines will reside in the customer experience center along with employees who will walk through processes, training and possibilities.

Separately, Stratasys and Siemens Mobility Division have used Stratasys' FDM 3D printing technology to produce custom parts for German transportation company Stadtwerke Ulm/Neu Ulm (SWU) Verkehr GmbH.

Siemens was able to create final tram parts using Stratasys systems within days and without tooling. If a rail part wasn't in stock, Siemens would have to buy machinery to manufacture it. Siemens could also only take orders for 10 parts or more.

The Siemens-Stratasys deal rhymes with a partnership recently announced with Ford. The economic case revolves around low inventory, faster production and savings.