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This Is Why

If you are following Gramm online, then you have noticed that more and more of our products, services, and solutions are becoming available to everyone. I thought that now would be a good time to tell you a bit more about the people behind Gramm, what we do, and why we do it. That way you know who you are working with, and why it makes sense for you to realize your additive manufacturing project with us. I want to change the world with additive manufacturing. Why change the world? Because the world is good as it is, but it can be even better. I also think that I have some unique ideas about how that change should be implemented, and therefore I want to participate actively in a change process that is going to happen anyways. Why additive manufacturing? There are two reasons: the technology itself and its state as of today, and my persona relation to it. First, I think additive manufacturing, 3D printing, is one of the most overlooked new technologies there is. Overlooked by whom? Mostly people outside the industry, but even people inside it, even existing customers. 3D printing is not a prototyping technology. It is a production technology. 3D printing is best compared to the microchip, or the TCP/IP protocol: It makes resources, in this case manufacturing resources, useable and available to everyone in a way that has never been done before. With 3D printing, it is very easy to produce a part, and to move the production of a part from one production machine to another. Experts may interrupt here and talk about repeatability. And yes, repeatability is an issue. But repeatability is also an issue mostly if you are looking for machining tolerances. Many mechanical parts such as fixtures and cases can live with lower tolerances, or still work within the distortion of the 3D printing process. If you relax the requirements, repeatability is already possible today, at least within the same process category or 3D printing technology. You may think now that this is a prognosis or an abstract claim. It is not. We at Gramm have been producing FFF parts for years, for many companies, sometimes with up to 5000 copies per item, and with many reorders. These parts are not prototypes. They are being used in machines that run continuously, as components of mechatronic systems that are sold to customers, or as standalone products. And these are not just design objects. We actually do not like to produce design objects, as the implied quality standard is often difficult to ascertain. Additive manufacturing is overlooked within the industry, because many in the industry, particularly established producers that came up as prototype service bureaus in the early 2000s and survived the economic crisis of 2008, think of additive manufacturing mainly as a novelty, or a prototyping technology, but not a production technology. This shines through in their marketing and their presentations, which influences users of additive manufacturing. Additive manufacturing is overlooked outside the industry, because most technologies considered disruptive or transformational are purely digital technologies. The blockchain, Internet-of-Things (if that is still around), or artificial intelligence only exist in computer networks, in RAM and on processors. They have no physical manifestation. If you send twenty gigabytes from Munich to New York, they are there within a few minutes. If you want to ship a mechanical part weighing 200 grams from Munich to New York, it takes several days to a few weeks, and you have to cross your fingers that customs doesn't stop your package for any of many superficial reasons. It is infinitely more difficult to create, modify, and transport solid state matter (i.e. heavy information, parts, tangible objects, not fluids or gases) than it is to create, modify, and transport digital information. Most people who are looking to make big changes stay in the digital realm, because the material world of tangible objects is slow, expensive, and difficult to change. Working with mechanical parts is hard work, and while digital manufacturing such as additive manufacturing is bringing down the costs of change, it does not nearly have the superficial ease of the digital world. But what is often overlooked is that while it is harder to make changes to the physical world, the magnitude of the results are often colossal. We are seeing the first signs here and there, such as in construction. But so far we have only scratched the surface of what digital manufacturing can do. Yet few people are paying attention, and the majority of those few see 3D printing more as a curiosity than the agent of tremendous change that it is. But as more and more examples are showing up on the news, public perception of additive manufacturing is going to change over time, until it adequately values the impact of this technology. The second reason why I work in additive manufacturing: I think that my skill set is uniquely suited for 3D printing. I studied mathematics at the Technische Universität München (TUM), the National University of Singapore, and Universität Regensburg before I left the academic world to look for something else. In my studies I was focused on the theory and numerical analysis of ordinary and partial differential equations, and while I did not become a scientist in this field, this gave me a lot of insight into numerical algorithms, such as the ones we use today in design for additive manufacturing for mechanical simulation and design automation. As is common with someone studying mathematics, I worked on a few software projects during my studies, for instance as an intern at the space company Astrium, now a subsidiary of Airbus. While at TUM, I was a research assistant at the iwb, a department at the faculty of mechanical engineering. I worked there on real time costing for assembly processes, as well as a virtual reality environment. Back then VR was a major setup. We had shutter glasses, a special project system called "holobench", and the entire system was driven by an IRIX computer. The idea behind that VR environment was to teach assembly processes to workers. I took that idea of using it for teaching, and today I am using it to teach additive manufacturing skills in a contemporary virtual reality environment. Everyone at the iwb was a mechanical engineer except for me. This taught me how to interface well with mechanical engineers while working on development or research project, and I think have retained that ability pretty well. After leaving university I idled for a while, not quite knowing what to do. I was aware that I knew a lot, and that I had a decent skill set. But I couldn't find a field where I thought that I could really make a difference, where my specific skill set was unique, and where the field was worthwhile enough to produce measurable, significant and tangible change in how the world operates. And then I found additive manufacturing. I came to additive manufacturing as a software developer for Netfabb. Back then Netfabb was owned by a contract manufacturer specializing in 3D printed prototypes. Since then Netfabb has been sold to Autodesk. At Netfabb I learned how to write algorithms to create toolpaths for 3D printers, and a few other things, such as lattices. After a year I transitioned from the software side to project engineering, particularly laser metal powder bed fusion, and I switched to the then parent company of Netfabb. The parent company had a large number of laser metal powder bed fusion systems. I helped customers find use cases for this new technology, and I adapted their designs according to DfAM principles. The company also had a large number of different 3D printing systems in use (polymer and laser metal and electron beam metal powder bed fusion, binder jetting, material extrusion, as well as some conventional prototyping production technologies such as vacuum casting and injection molding). This combination of mathematical background, software development skills, practical skills of working with mechanical engineers as a software guy, and several years of practical experience in the additive manufacturing industry in my opinion puts me in a unique position to help moving the industry forward. For this purpose I eventually went into business for myself, and a short while later I founded Gramm. At Gramm we have been quietly designing products, produced tens of thousands of parts, and researched innovative additive manufacturing solutions. This is where we are today. I invite you all to work with us to develop excellent and innovative additive manufacturing (AM) solutions. We can empower you at any stage of your AM adoption process:

  1. If you have heard of additive manufacturing, but you do not know whether the technology is useful for you, then you can book our seminar that teaches you additive manufacturing fundamentals. (Online booking for online and offline seminars is coming soon. In the meantime, check out the syllabus here, and send an inquiry by email to contact@gramm.online )

  2. If you a couple of ideas on how to apply additive manufacturing in your environment, then you can book a consulting hour from us, where you get quality, high level feedback and advice for your proposal from an additive manufacturing expert regarding the technical feasibility and economic viability of your project.

  3. If you have an existing AM project, but you are struggling to find the best material, design and 3D printing technology for your part, then you can hire us as engineering support for your project. Engineering is available upon request. We suggest you book an hour of consulting first to help you shape your proposal, so that we can provide you with an excellent quote. Engineering inquiries are best sent by email to contact@gramm.online .

  4. If you have an existing AM design that you are looking to produce, then you can order parts directly from usin our online ordering system. Create an account, upload the parts, configure your order, and then send us an order request. Important: when you submit your parts, then you are not creating an order, but an order request. We check every order request manually for technical feasibility (can it be printed) and economic viability (the prices are computed by an algorithm. Sometimes the prices are too high, sometimes they are too low. We always check them and adjust them if necessary). Try it today! We offer competitive pricing, especially for PLA, PETG, ASA and silicone rubber.

  5. If you are looking to mass produce parts in FFF-PLA, FFF-PETG, or FFF-ASA, then our print farm is your best option. We offer great quality and short lead times at low prices. Fused Filament Fabrication (FDM, Fused Deposition Model) is an established and robust 3D printing technology that is excellent for medium sized, medium resolution mechanical polymer components. You can send mass production requests through our online ordering system at manufacture.gramm.online , or via e-mail to contact@gramm.online .

  6. If you are looking for silicone 3D printing, then we have an excellent solution for you: our silicone rubber. Our silicone rubber is processed on a material jetting machine. This particular type of machine is only available in Germany and Japan. We ship worldwide! Just recently we shipped some surgery practice models to the USA. They like our material because it mimics the behavior of human tissue quite well.

  7. If you are looking for an additive manufacturing solution and we cannot provide it in house, then we find the right partners in our network to provide you with the best-in-class solution for your use case.

Our production parts are used by automotive companies, aerospace companies, medical device manufacturers and research organizations, startups, e-mobility systems providers, semiconductor device manufacturers, and many more. Our customers are located all around the world, but mostly in Germany, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the United States. On top of our commercial services we participate in research projects, and we provide high end engineering services, particularly for the medical devices industry. There are about a dozen people in the world that wear a cranial implant that was designed by Gramm. We collaborate on research with TU München, Fraunhofer IKTS Dresden, Lithoz, Montanuniversität Leoben, and others. We have provided high end AM Consulting and training to many companies and organizations, such as Danfoss, Technion Israel, smsGroup, Rafael, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), Premium Aerotec (Airbus subsidiary), Technische Hochschule Deggendorf, Luitpoldhütte, and many more. When we are working on an engineering project, we select the 3D printing technology, material and design according to what is best for the use case, not what we have in house. Sometimes what we have in house works best, and that is great. But sometimes special materials are needed. For instance, last year we had a request for an apparatus for dental research project, where we needed a medical grade material. We couldn't process a material like that on one of our machines at the time, so we partnered up with Technische Hochschule Deggendorf to offer a solution. We have a carefully curated network of excellent partners worldwide that offer special processes, materials, or post-processing capabilities that we cannot offer in house. No 3D printing company has all processes in house. This is why the manufacturing network is important. But more about that later. I hope that gave you some insight about what Gramm is, what Gramm does, why Gramm exists and why it does what it does. Do you find our vision for additive manufacturing compelling? Then get in touch with us! We are delighted to hear from you.

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