Samuel Boehm

Interview with Armin Müller, CEO of emm! solutions and former Vice President for Future Projects at Porsche AG

“When time pressure starts, the art of development is to stop and be willing to work with 80% so that you still have the best outcome in the end”

During our first Launchpad we interviewed Armin Müller about his past experiences and his role during the development of the ESP system at Daimler. Feel free to watch the video or read the full interview below!

Armin, you have gained a great deal of experience in your roles at Daimler, ZF, and Porsche. Today, we wanted to talk with you about the introduction of the ESP system—the Electronic Stability Programme that prevents cars from skidding.

You were Head of Development at Daimler at the time when the ESP system was developed in collaboration with Bosch. Can you share some insights about your experience back then? How quickly did you develop the whole thing and what were some of the challenges you faced during development?

The first hurdle was setting up the design innovation project between two large companies. We had to decide who had the specific skills and how the project would be divided.

The first big phase was to get the ESP system from the research phase into a series product (this was between 1992-1995). Bosch had prepared a solution that was partly ready, but some essential features were missing. Mercedes had another solution in pre-development that was very pragmatic, but it was not extensive enough. In the end, a fusion of both was the right thing, so we merged together the algorithms that Bosch developed for ABS with the Mercedes driving safety system (called FSI at the time).

The timeline was also one of our early challenges. Our development timeline was shortened from 5 years to 33 months. Compared to ABS/ASR, the ESP was developed in half the time, with a third of the people, and a factor of 6 in complexity (if you only take the amount of software code). 

We were creating a completely new system that automatically brakes in the event of an error. This didn’t exist before. The ASR did some of this, but only for the rear wheels, because the front wheels did not brake. With ESP, all 4 wheels would be able to brake. This also brought in a new dimension of security. 

We were a well-functioning team. We deliberately worked with very few, but very good people. And speed was the key. But the product had to be flawless. For that we had a clear process—define, deliver, check, improve, redefine. We went through this twice. 

The difficulty with the ESP system was that these phases could not be run in a sequence, they were all run in parallel because of the schedule and our coordination with the Bosch team. The whole system was so modular that if, for instance, the yaw rate sensor (a completely new development) was still in the last phase, but control units and other parts were already further ahead, everything could be tested together.

A year before the start of series production, we didn’t do anything except eliminate mistakes and work on those issues. In the end, this was the right thing to do so that we could maintain the quality. 

When time pressure starts, the art of development is to stop and be willing to work with 80% so that you still have the best outcome in the end. Of course, this also requires a bit of tolerance and alignment from everyone—what do you need to add, and what can you leave out? This was an excellent exercise with the ESP system and it worked very well. We had excellent operating figures and the first system went into series production almost flawlessly after 33 months. That was really something.

Amazing, Armin. Let’s go deeper into this topic 80%. It sounds so simple—the Pareto principle that roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes. But to what extent did you really go about it with products where safety is so critical?

In the end, there will still be some functionalities that can be developed further or improved. For example, driving comfort in certain types of snow, or calmer braking behavior when you have rough surfaces. But these have nothing to do with final performance and safety.

These last improvements are still so important to a specialist, but we really had to stress to the team that when we said we would stop developing, nothing more would be done. There was massive resistance because our specialists knew that they could still improve a lot, but we stopped anyway. We simply decided that safety, quality, and robustness were the most important. In the end, it turned out that the functionality was always good enough for the average user anyway.

At the end of the day, we had to start making compromises around what would really play a significant role in our success in the market. In terms of quality and safety, that had to be 100%. But other features, where it’s about driving comfort or improving noise, you make compromises so that you can use the resources available to bring safety and quality forward.

We all know of Tesla from the US. Daimler was an investor in Tesla, but then dropped out, perhaps out of fear that the products had been developed too quickly and were not safe. How do you see this in relation to the development of the ESP system? Is product development becoming more and more agile?

The question is always at what point do you make compromises, and at what point do you not. Concerning battery technology and computer technology (or board network technology), Tesla has broken new ground. This is where they invested their efforts. Maybe the stiffness of the body is not the dominant feature for their marketing and sales success, so it’s not where they invested.

In the end, you always have to weigh what your product is and what it represents. If Tesla were to build the best car body in the world, no one would care. But when they create great computer technology and an electric drive, then that’s super interesting.

Tesla chose not to go the traditional way. They saved on traditional features and invested in new features. Every start-up does this, by the way. You can’t go the traditional way, because the others are way too far ahead and are too good. So now you have to take a different view and push that forward. If it’s good and your product is successful on the market, then you’ve defined something new.

That’s right, Armin, you’re bringing up an important topic. In order to develop something new, you have to go new ways and maybe develop the product in a more agile way.

You touched on another point. In 1997, the A-Class flipped during the so-called ‘moose test’ in Sweden. Because of this, the ESP system was introduced very quickly in the A-Class and thus entered the market fast. It took ABS 20 years, but the ESP  system was available in all vehicle classes within just a few years. So the product was not only developed very quickly, but it was also launched on the market quickly.

Regardless of effort, you also need to have luck in the end. Thank goodness it worked and thank goodness we had already started development. We had a version completely set up to fit in the A-Class, so the system was available. Otherwise it would not have been available at all.

We worked extremely well with the task force to bring it into the A-Class. Hubert and his team with Mr. Brunke, they did a great job, reacted quickly, and took the chance. You also need this kind of management that seizes opportunities, because many don’t.

When the car flipped, I was with my family in Grindelwald. I got a newspaper saying that the A-class had flipped and the ESP system should be built into the A-class. I invited everyone to a bottle of wine that day. I was happy because two years earlier I had reported to management that the ESP system would be built in all Mercedes vehicles by the year 2000. This was met with roaring laughter. They thought I was a crazy young guy. With the A-Class incident, it was absolutely clear that we would win the race.

Another thing that was interesting—thanks to the quick introduction, we were able to statistically prove the effectiveness of the system. With ABS it was extremely difficult to prove, because there were always many different cars on the market, so you could not correctly identify the features and functionality from accidents. This was not the case with the ESP. Due to the rapid change, there were pre-cars and after-cars, and there were different studies to prove the effectiveness in accidents. For example, fatal accidents with a vehicle skidding and turning into oncoming traffic or skidding off the road and hitting a tree, simply stopped. So in this respect, it was also a gift for the security of the product that it moved so quickly.

There are statistics that in Germany and Europe alone, tens of thousands of lives have been saved by the ESP. So Armin, thank you very much for that. It is also impressive to see that products can be developed so quickly. For instance, we just saw the development of vaccines at Biontech and CureVac. 

Now let’s jump to later in your career when you were at ZF and then also at Porsche. Can you compare the two companies (Diamler and Porsche) for us? What was the philosophy behind product development? Were they comparable, were they different?

ZF was extremely distributed around the world with many plants and many different types of businesses. This was completely different from Porsche, a sports car manufacturer with a clear identity, based in Weissach and Zuffenhausen. Porsche was focused on precision in how the product was developed and was also very customer-centric.

One of my first goals was to understand the data around all of our features so we could maintain specific KPIs. Right from the start, we had a targeted system for developing the cars. Our motto was: how do I make a difference with this vehicle? It’s a similar vehicle to an Audi or Daimler, but how do we differentiate ourselves? Why is the car better? If the data is the same, what can I do to make it better?

For example, when the 911 Turbo came onto the market, it was better than the vehicles that had been developed up until then. When we were building the first generation, we were already thinking ahead about optimizing the technology for the second generation. In the management meeting with Wiedeking, there were disputes about where money was being invested and how we could make lightweight vehicles. We could make lightweight improvements on the fenders or we could make lightweight improvements in the center. The center is more expensive, but when you improve the center, you can still fix the fenders and gain weight improvements again. So we had massive discussions about this.

We finally agreed on a high-performance package that didn’t fully play out from the start. We got the first generation to 80%, and the remaining 20% of the optimizations were brought into the second generation. The key thing was that the management at Porsche was extremely product-oriented and had a clear direction and a team behind every measure. That was great.

You mentioned an important issue here. The management was product-driven. We see that a lot with our customers too. Some are procurement-driven, some are product-driven, what is your experience here?

In the automotive industry, if you ask someone from the board of directors, they will always say ‘I have gasoline in my blood, I’m product-driven’. But what is a manager really doing all day long? They are dealing with finances, the market, and the share price. At Porsche, under Wiedeking, we had an extremely small, high-performing team behind the scenes, and we were able to implement a lot.

With a small production quantity, it was crucial to keep the development costs low, because in the end it was reflected in the product cost. With mass production, it was more or less the component price. From a financial standpoint, you need to work extremely effectively and have a clear product definition and efficient processes. All of these things were excellent at Porsche.

That sounds exactly right. After a career like the one you’ve had, most would think of retirement, buying a nice house in the mountains, but no, you founded the company emm! Solutions. Now you have a great, young team at your company developing great products, such as the self-driving vehicle (ILO) or the Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV). 

You’ve seen both worlds now. You saw the corporate world in product development, but also the start-up space, with more agile methods of bringing products to market. How do they differ? Where do you see advantages and disadvantages and where can the two complement each other?

The first thing we do differently in the startup space is that we basically rely on standards, rather than reinventing them. We don’t differentiate ourselves by developing something that others can already do much better. We are not too proud to take a good solution from someone else. We’re focusing on system integration, not on the development of components. By concentrating on system integration, we were able to realize the vehicle extremely quickly. However, of course, the functionality cannot be compared to an OEM.

For example, what a vehicle can do on all kinds of roads, we don’t address that in the same way. We only do this for certain essential core areas. This doesn’t mean that the core cannot expand, but we don’t focus on overtaking everyone in the first step.

You need to focus on two things regarding the USP: what do you really want to achieve and how do you get it done in the shortest possible time? The realization time is the absolute differentiator. When you know exactly what you want and you can do it in a short time, you’re on the market earlier and it costs you less. It’s absolutely essential to understand how you can get to the market as quickly as possible to shape your economic future.

You will certainly inspire many with this interview, Armin. If someone wants to found a hardware start-up, what three tips would you give them?

My first tip is to get a clear picture of the market and customer. The second is to be sure product offering matches the effort and budget that goes into making it. You need to know who you want to serve and in what kind of market. If the product fits, you can do brutally innovative development. But that’s the framework for development. As a startup, this framework is the most important thing. Developing the product itself is not the challenge, but setting up the framework for success, that’s what I would focus on if I were starting again.

Great Armin! Thank you very much for sharing your experience with us today. It was really inspiring and it was fun. Thank you!

 Make an appointment with one of our cloud manufacturing specialists today to find out more about KREATIZE

The future of bringing products to market looks bright! Highlights from our Launchpad event.

On February 25, we hosted KREATIZE Launchpad—the first event in our new quarterly series. We brought together over 124 Kreators, industry leaders and experts to discuss the future of bringing hardware products to market. What does the manufacturing of tomorrow look like? How can we produce better, more sustainable products and bring them to market faster? What does it feel like to develop products that change the world? We discussed these topics and many more in a total of 14,776 minutes (yes, you read correctly—that’s the cumulative time we spent together). 

We were honored to have a huge turn out for the live KREATIZE Launchpad broadcast! Leading hardware manufacturers and product engineers joined us to share their own experiences and advice about bringing products to market.  

Here are the biggest takeaways from the first KREATIZE Launchpad:

Product innovation is a key driver of future growth

Disruption is inevitable, forward thinking is critical: all KREATIZE Launchpad speakers have worked at companies that had to reinvent themselves to stay competitive.

The world is going digital, so either you’re on board or you’re left behind. Disruption is a positive thing—it means replacing existing business models, products, technologies or services with innovations that are better, faster and cheaper. Gisbert Rühl, CEO of Klöckner & Co, talked about the company’s digital transformation to become more product-led and customer-centric: “Our digital transformation to become a more product-driven company was very difficult. We had to go through a significant cultural change, for instance with an internal social network to dramatically change the way we communicate, and education tools to increase the digital IQ of the company.”  

“Traditional manufacturing companies need to think about what can disrupt their business. The world is moving so fast! Robin Dechant, Aveo founder and initiator of futureofmanufacturing.io shared his perspective on the new world of product product development.  

Apple and Google are now the largest manufacturers of speakers and headphones in the world, but that hasn’t stopped HEDD from developing the best high-tech headphones in the world at a time when sound quality seems to be less and less relevant. Klaus Heinz, CTO of HEDD, talked about the changes in the speaker and headphone market over the last 10-15 years, with Apple and Google making a play. 

Product-oriented and customer-centric companies have the edge

When it comes to the speed of product development at startups versus traditional companies, Armin Müller, CEO of emm! solutions and former Vice President of Future Projects at Porsche AG, understands both worlds very well. He talked about some of the differences in product development at big corporate companies vs. startups. He also shared his experience developing and introducing the ESP: “When I told management that ESP should be integrated in every vehicle in 5 years, I was laughed at. But then the A-Class tipped over and everything happened very quickly.”  

Startups are more customer-centric than traditional companies. They need to be more agile, have a deep understanding of customer needs, start with an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and then refine it with customer feedback.

“Don’t be overly enthusiastic about your own ideas. Always ask yourself—what is the benefit to the customer?” This customer-centric mindset has worked well for HEDD over the years.

“You have to be set up to learn quickly. Take “Space X” for example—they iterated very quickly. They built, measured, learned and now they will send humans into space”, explained Robin Dechant.

Keep it simple when it comes to product development. Failure is part of the game.

As someone who has been involved in dozens of new product launches from Latitude Notebooks to the iPad, I have experienced first-hand the importance of a methodical approach to new product development,” KREATIZE CSO Zod B. Mehr explained the phase-gate process, which sets a vision for your product and takes precise, incremental steps to make it happen.

“Product development is quite simple—build something, measure it, and then learn. Failure is part of the game. This is the most important thing. With failures you gain insight along the way about what does and does not work,” said Robin Dechant

“We had to completely change our culture to become more agile and adopt a new way of working where failure is not only allowed, but part of the process,” Gisbert Rühl also mentioned.

It’s not about digitizing but eliminating the RFQ process

Daniel A. Garcia Rodriguez, KREATIZE CTO, explained how KREATIZE’s technology enables customers to buy machine hours instead of parts.

KREATIZE CEO, Simon Tüchelmann, and CSO, Zod B. Mehr, also talked about the future of bringing products to market and how cloud manufacturing is changing the world of product development by enabling rapid access to manufacturing services through our network of partners.

A big thank you to all of our KREATIZE Launchpad speakers and to everyone who attended—especially to:

Gisbert Rühl, CEO of Klöckner & Co SE

Armin Müller, CEO of emm! solutions

Klaus Heinz, CTO of HEDD Heinz Electro Dynamic Designs and

Robin Dechant, Aveo founder and initiator of futureofmanufacturing.io

A few more facts about our participants:

Total unique attendees: 124

Watch time:

Total time watched: 14.776min

Average time watched: 119min

Geography:

Unique countries: 15

Unique continents: 3

Are you interested in learning more about hardware product development?

Good news! We have something just for you: Download our free whitepaper on new product development to discover the six key steps to guide a project from idea to launch. You can also read our Blogpost about the phase-gate approach!

We’re changing the status quo of mechanical engineering. Welcome to KREATIZE!

 

What does it look like to gain access to manufacturing services with unlimited capacities, without any additional investment? KREATIZE CEO Simon Tüchelmann explains our vision for how technology will empower every engineer to create great products, with lower transaction costs and shorter delivery times.   

KREATIZE was founded in 2015 by Simon Tüchelmann (CEO) and Daniel A. Garcia Rodriguez (CTO), to help companies with smart purchasing solutions. We created a platform that digitizes the way custom parts are manufactured and ordered, to bring more agility into the world of mechanical engineering.

Simon Tüchelmann (CEO) and Daniel A. Garcia Rodriguez (CTO)

Our ultimate goal

KREATIZE drives innovations that change the world. We offer our customers the opportunity to innovate, design great products sustainably, and bring them to market quickly. In short: We are changing the status quo of mechanical engineering!

What drives us

We are changing the world of manufacturing, true to our mission: “manufacturing the world loves”. 

What does this mean? This means that:  

  • Engineers have access to manufacturing information they’ve never had before, enabling them to improve the design and performance of custom parts 
  • You can produce better products with less lead time and lower cost 
  • You can focus more on your end product, and less on purchasing bottlenecks
  • At the end of the day, manufacturing won’t be what holds you back from producing great products

We believe in a digital and agile European manufacturing world and our team of 40 Kreators work everyday to support it.

 

How we are changing the world of mechanical engineering

We support our customers in replacing their purchasing-centered processes with product-centered processes. Product-led companies understand that the primary driver of growth and value for their business is their product, so they prioritize around the product’s success. By automating your purchasing process, we enable teams to concentrate fully on developing their products. KREATIZE Manufacturing Cloud gives our customers access to production capacities without additional investments. It is as if you owned an expensive machine park without having to buy all the equipment and build it from the ground up. The acquisition of expensive manufacturing systems and lengthy inquiry and quotation processes are a thing of the past thanks to KREATIZE.

100% transparency, always! 

Using open book calculations, we analyze the production requirements for each component requested, and this forms the foundation of the production costs. With KREATIZE, the customer not only receives the price for the components, but also all the associated production times. This allows engineers to continually optimize their products and understand exactly what they are paying for in detail. 

Our proprietary software uses algorithms from artificial intelligence to enable the immediate calculation of the hourly machine rate and delivery time. The price is calculated using our smart pricing algorithm, our CAM simulations, and a comparison against analogous data. With every new part offered, we improve our knowledge and can thus offer the fairest and fastest prices, taking into account the current capacities of our suppliers.

Together with our more than 200 preferred suppliers worldwide, we offer our customers a variety of manufacturing processes.

We find the right supplier for every desired component—whether milled and turned parts, laser or waterjet parts, or 3D-printed components. In addition, our network is crisis-proof and has almost unlimited production capacities. We have our own quality center and work in very close cooperation with our partners to guarantee the highest quality and reliability of delivery. 

How we are different—industrial know-how meets high-tech expertise

What makes us unique is our software and its unmatched transparency in the specification of the production times. With KREATIZE Manufacturing Services, the customer not only has the opportunity to view production times and access machine capacities, but they can also optimize components during the development process. 

For example, designers can check and optimize the production times for a specific component while it is already in development. In addition, our competent team of mechanical engineering, purchasing, and data analysis experts is available to our customers every day! We are passionate about mechanical engineering and act as a personal contact for direct and open communication. We proactively support our customers in their purchasing process and ensure that their custom-made parts arrive on time and in perfect condition.

We are convinced that the European manufacturing industry is ready to take this next step away from expensive and lengthy purchasing, towards fast and lean processes to remain highly competitive.

Get yourself the free KREATIZE whitepaper about product development now: New Product Development Whitepaper

Launchpad—the future of bringing (hardware) products to market

Product innovation is the #1 driver of future growth and defendable margins.

Europe is full of amazing companies producing some of the best products in their markets, but many of these companies are struggling with product innovation and development. It either takes too long, is too expensive, or it fails to meet market requirements.   

We think it’s time for this to change. We’re bringing together Kreators (hardware development innovators) and product designers to discuss the challenges and the successes of hardware product development. Introducing KREATIZE Launchpad – a platform for leaders and innovators to exchange knowledge, insight, and ideas. 

This quarterly event series will host thought leaders from across all industries with one common theme: we are passionate about hardware product development. 

Hear from renowned leaders on product innovation

We’ll be joined by founders of startups, CEOs of leading product companies, designers, developers, and engineers from around the world who will be talking with us about product development.

At this month’s event, we’ll hear from leaders at Klöckner & Co, HEDD, Emm! solutions, and Aveo (founder of the Future of Manufacturing community) about how they see the future of bringing products to market.

And, of course, you can expect to hear from KREATIZE CEO, Simon Tüchelman, and CSO, Zod Mehr, who will join the conversation. 

Connect with the product community

We hope to build a community of like-minded people who are changing the world by designing better products. And we hope you’ll join us!

While we may not be in person just yet, you’ll still have plenty of opportunities to network and connect with your peers in this community.  

Register now for free for Launchpad on 25 February @ 2:00pm CET 

Calling all creators! If you’d like to share your story at an upcoming Launchpad event, please get in touch with us.

How KREATIZE together with Werk24 lowers the purchasing costs

Building software systems that use data to make decisions, also called data science, is what today’s advanced technology companies are building their algorithms on. In today’s world of software products, we believe that software systems should be capable of learning from past data to make decisions, similarly to the human brain.

So how can we, as humans and software systems, make good decisions based on information from the past? The key to solve this problem is by a vast amount of information rich data. This will help us to build systems to use the enhanced understanding, to take decisions and make the most out of our knowledge. 

Let’s illustrate this with an example

If you ask yourself, what colour tomatoes are when ripe, you will probably answer red. Thus, by looking at a tomato you would be able to decide if you can eat it or not. Now imagine you’ve never seen an apple before and you see an apple tree with red and green fruits hanging from it. From your experience with tomatoes, you would assume that the red ones are ready to be eaten. One day you see a tree with only green apples. Your historical learnings would tell you that they’re not ripe yet. However, after observing them for a year you realize that they never turned red, even though they fell on the ground and started rotting. At some point you realize that there are also green apples that will never turn red, but are juicy and sweet regardless. By adding a new dimension, such as type of tree, time of the year or geographical location, you increase your understanding and thus your learning of whether a fruit is ready to be eaten or not.

How can this be adopted to the manufacturing industry? 

At Kreatize we deal with custom parts that our customers use to build their machines on a daily basis. How do you calculate the price of a part that has never been produced before? Mechanical engineers are able to estimate prices, by looking at technical drawings of these custom parts and use their experience and knowledge to determine the right price. This is not only done by the geometrical representation of a custom part, but also by considering other information from technical drawings. 

For instance, parts with high precision tolerances have longer production times on the machine to be produced and are therefore more expensive. A mechanical engineer will be able to extract this information from a technical drawing. 

With the use of Werk24’s software stack, Kreatize will be provided with systems that are capable of reading and understanding information from technical drawings. With this information gain we are capable of improving our cognitive systems, which take decisions based on the available part information.  

Kreatize’s value creation 

Working with Werk24, at Kreatize we can improve the data quality of our in-house CAD agnostic format for representation of manufacturing data. 

Having a better data representation and better data insights, will help to improve and optimize our pricing system, manufacturability analysis and finding the right supplier for our customers.

The manufacturing industry will become more competitive as innovative companies like Werk24 tackle unique and complex challenges. By having a better understanding of our customers’ requirements, Kreatize is able to simplify the manufacturing process and digitalize the procurement process through supportive software-based systems.

Through the cooperation with Kreatize, Werk24 is able to improve their Artificial Intelligence system, by making use of new, unseen drawings and learn from errors.

Jointly, we believe the collaboration contributes to the strength of the European Manufacturing Location.

Why We Took Over Fabrikado

To build the largest custom part manufacturing platform

KREATIZE takes over fabrikado – German procurement platform for machinery and equipment manufacturers further expands market leadership through consolidation.

You can find our press release and media kit HERE.

When we started KREATIZE in 2015 we did so with the mission of making the ordering of custom parts as simple as ordering pizza. Over the past 4 years we have grown together with our mission, to become the leading one-stop-shop for custom part manufacturing in the machinery & equipment sector. 

Along this journey, we have procured millions of euros worth of custom parts and  built a large supplier network which is as diverse and versatile as our Team ー a team which strives every day to build long-lasting customer relationships together with mechanical and software engineers who continuously deploy cutting edge proprietary technology for the automation of part procurement.

Our biggest pride at KREATIZE is working with hidden champions and family owned companies who constitute the backbone of the European economy and are global leaders in technology and innovation in their fields. We believe that enabling customisation through manufacturing agility combined with these companies, technological leadership is the key to secure their pole position for centuries to come. We care to continue and export the tradition of excellence and stability of the European manufacturing industry. The same tradition which is reflected by companies like TSF, which Simon’s grandfather started 50 years ago.

In these times of market uncertainty and digital transformation, we at KREATIZE have long been thinking of how to ensure that the future of this sector would stay true to the values of Europe’s hidden champions. Following the entry of an American competitor in Europe, we decided it was time to further strengthen our market position by rapidly expanding our product offering and the reach of our network. There is no question in our minds that the leading platform for custom part manufacturing will be European. Because we will make sure of this. 

European innovation is, against common understanding, not only driven by its world known OEMs but by the smaller engineering champions in areas like robotics and automation, 3D printing, electro and micro mobility or medical technology to name a few. Allowing these companies to increase the agility of their production with efficient procurement and competitive pricing, while guaranteeing the highest quality standards means growing the biggest asset for Europe’s economy and prosperity.

Late last year we explored the opportunity to take over fabrikado, a company with similar roots to ours, started in Balingen, a town a mere 50 km away from Tübingen, by Thomas Hoffmeister, Patrick Genkinger und Marc Eberhart. KREATIZE and fabrikado were more complimentary than competitive:  while KREATIZE had focused on CNC-machining on a fully automated manufacturing cloud, fabrikado had already built an online shop with instant quoting capacities for laser cutting and 3D printing. Joining forces with fabrikado also means extending our proximity to our customers to extend the expertise of our team with strong talent from the heart of German manufacturing.  

Together with fabrikado we strengthen our roots in the manufacturing heart of Europe and are able to extend our services to our network of engineers, buyers and partners. Together we will continue to build long term customer relationships with a stronger company and with a stronger team. Through cutting edge technology and the tradition and excellence of the European hidden champions, we will continue to provide our customers an unmatched procurement experience, and so we will assure that the name of the leading platform for custom part manufacturing is KREATIZE.

You can find our press release and media kit HERE.

Which manufacturing process suits my part?

Subtractive manufacturing processes such as CNC milling & CNC turning, CNC waterjet cutting or CNC laser cutting or additive manufacturing processes such as FDM, MJM, SLS & SLM – there are different ways to manufacture your part. But not every process can be combined with every material. In the following text, we will introduce you to the two manufacturing methods and their special features.

Subtractive manufacturing processes


Let’s start with subtractive manufacturing and imagine we want to manufacture a simple fruit bowl.

In subtractive manufacturing, a block of the material in which the part is to be made is shaped into the desired form by removing material. For example, machining can shape an initially square block of metal into a circular hemisphere. The basis for our fruit bowl. In a further step, the hemisphere can now be hollowed out with the help of a milling machine so that we can also fill it with our fruit. For a safe stand, the bottom of the hemisphere can be flattened in a final step. Of course, this is just a very simple example and there are numerous other design possibilities. For example, a part can be additionally equipped with threads, holes, pockets and other features.

All in all, a large block of material is machined until it is turned into the finished part designed in the CAD program. A major advantage of subtractive manufacturing is its high accuracy, especially when working with low tolerances. In addition, machining is very fast for large quantities.

Additive Manufacturing processes


Unlike the subtractive processes, the workpiece in additive manufacturing is created using the layer building principle, which means that the part is built up in layers.

In our example of the fruit bowl, it grows into its final image with each new layer. In most additive processes, the starting material (a powder or filament, depending on the process) is melted by heating, formed into the new shape, and built up layer by layer.

No machining tools are necessary in additive manufacturing. As a result, very complex structures can be realized and there are hardly any design restrictions. Thus, very individual prototypes and small series can be produced at low unit costs and in a reasonable time. Due to the rapid feasibility with the additive process, the production of prototypes is often referred to as “rapid prototyping“, the production of tools as “rapid tooling” and the production of end products as “rapid manufacturing“.

The question of the appropriate manufacturing process begins with the selection of the desired material and ends in the complexity of the part. For our fruit bowl, it would be easy to find the right manufacturing process, as the part can be produced using any process, but the cost per part would differ considerably depending on the process.

For extremely complex structures inside a part, such as cavities, to save weight, an additive manufacturing process is chosen. However, if a simple design and less complex structures are used, a subtractive process would be the right choice.

The batch size also plays an important role in the selection of the right process: Since additive processes are slower in production than subtractive processes due to the layer construction principle, a subtractive process is selected if possible for larger quantities.

Test our KREATIZE Manufacturing Services!


At KREATIZE we offer subtractive (CNC milling & CNC turning, CNC waterjet cutting, CNC laser cutting) as well as additive manufacturing processes (FDM, MJM, SLS & SLM). Our CNC milling service is ideal for prototyping or functional testing and you have a choice of over 400 different plastic and metal materials. Our additive manufacturing processes are capable of producing finished parts directly from 3D CAD data without custom tooling.

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