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Zumtobel3D printed helpers for the “digital factory”

The Zumtobel Group, an international lighting solutions company, recently began using a state-of-the-art production control system to manufacture its LED luminaires. As 3D printing specialists, 1zu1 helped Zumtobel maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of its manufacturing processes via cleverly designed mounts for the readers and scanners that were installed at more than 150 workstations.

Digital standardization is the key to success: In summer 2022, the Zumtobel Group based in Dornbirn took another important step towards the “digital factory” by replacing its existing production control system with a state-of-the-art SAP system.

This required the installation of a large number of RFID readers and data matrix scanners, for which the 3D printing specialists at 1zu1 created suitable mounts. In just three weeks, Zumtobel was able to convert more than 150 workstations in its luminaire production facility in Dornbirn via a gradual process.

Process engineer Segmen Türk from the Zumtobel team showed 1zu1 project manager Sebastian Fink how the 3D printed mounts were used in practical applications.

What does the “digital factory” mean in terms of luminaire production?

Segmen Türk: More effective and efficient workflows. Our employees record their attendance digitally via the RFID readers directly at their workstations. The production order is now also called up and made available digitally.  As part of the digital factory, we have switched to low-paper manufacturing and digitized our parts lists and instructions. By scanning a data matrix code, our employees can see all relevant information about the component and the product on their screens. The likelihood of errors during the various assembly steps is lessened at an early stage by means of system-based controls, thus reducing the error rate almost to zero.

What was your role in the transition?

Segmen Türk: I’ve been involved in the project as a super key user from the very beginning. I was able to contribute my expertise and experience in terms of defining the processes and system functions. In addition to extensive testing of the functions and providing training for the staff, I was also responsible for organizing the hardware and installing it. Numerous screens, scanners, and operating devices had to be mounted on more than 150 workstations. The expert support provided by 1zu1 with the 3D printed parts contributed to the successful completion of the overall project.

How did the collaboration between Zumtobel and 1zu1 come about?

Segmen Türk: The initial contact was through Philipp Schelling. We studied “Industrial Engineering” together and he’s the 3D printing production manager at 1zu1. He told me about the possibilities of 3D printing, and I was immediately excited about the technology. Until then, i wasn’t very familiar with this subject.

Were there any alternatives to 3D printing?

Segmen Türk: Before the decision was made in favor of 3D printing, milling the parts from plastic blocks was the preferred option. However, this would have made it very difficult, if not impossible, for us to realize the requested shape. In addition, the manpower and time required would have been immense, and the milling and finishing would have taken weeks.

What were the requirements for the mounts?

Segmen Türk: We wanted a standardized and quickly implementable solution with as few components as possible. 3D printing offered us a great opportunity to achieve this. Thanks to 1zu1’s expertise, we received high-quality, durable, and easily reproducible mounts for our readers and scanners.

Sebastian Fink: The RFID reader, for example, had to be clamped into the holder without any additional parts or screws. This was achieved by means of a bulge on the inside. This kind of geometry is not feasible with other technologies.

How was 1zu1 able to contribute to the development process?

Sebastian Fink: Based on the initial design plans from Zumtobel, we produced a set of five prototypes. As a result, our engineering department suggested some design improvements. Thinner walls made the parts distortion-free, more dimensionally stable, and thus more durable. The associated cost reduction was a positive side effect for Zumtobel. We also recommended dyeing the mounts black via heatset impregnation. So even after years of intensive use, the mounts still look as good as they did on day one. Our consulting service is all about the customer. We want to provide a cost-effective and functional solution. This means saving resources in the right places and making the products even more robust.

What was the next step?

Sebastian Fink: The adapted design was used to produce another set of prototypes for approval. This was immediately followed by the production of around 700 pieces – divided into partial deliveries. This enabled Zumtobel to begin installation immediately and quickly equip its workstations with the new system.

Segmen Türk: The entire process was very fast. 1zu1 really thought about what we needed and optimized things accordingly. The partial deliveries helped us tremendously and the support was excellent from start to finish. Of course, I also visited 1zu1’s premises on the Färbergasse. Our subsidiary, Tridonic, is just around the corner. This gives us the ideal foundation for any future projects.

Our interviewees: Segmen Türk is a process engineer at Zumtobel and jointly leads the team implementing the transition to a digital factory for luminaire production. As the area manager for Vorarlberg, Sebastian Fink is the customer’s first point of contact at 1zu1. The interview was conducted by Joshua Köb, the photos were taken by Darko Todorovic on the premises of the Zumtobel Group.


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