SODIMAS Elevators Use 3D Printing to Boost Innovation and Accelerate Time to Market

Article by Kelly Clancy updated September 14, 2016


Established in 1975, in Valence, France, SODIMAS designs and manufactures high end custom elevators. SODIMAS solutions can be adapted to all architectural styles and projects due to the quality of the materials used and their carefully designed finishing.

3d printing prototype

The 3D printed prototype part (left) is tested for form, fit and function before the final part (right) is produced

“Because SODIMAS is focused on the niche elevator business, developing relatively small series of customized solutions, we need to innovate a lot and that’s why Stratasys 3D Printing Solutions are so important to our company,” explains Patrice Arnoult, General Manager, SODIMAS.

Spearheading this innovation is the company’s FDM-based Fortus 450mc 3D Printer from Stratasys which is being used for three primary applications: functional prototyping, assembly tools, as well as sales tools and teaching aids.

Cutting Prototype Production Time by 98%

“All of our elevator cabins are made from aluminum, but the concept and development for the frames is achieved using Stratasys 3D printing solutions,” explained Stéphane Réau, Deputy Technical Director. “We design and produce the parts that are used to assemble the elevator’s ceiling, walls and floor, simultaneously. Once we’ve 3D printed each part, we’re able to quickly check the design and assembly for the correct fit, before proceeding to the manufacture of the lift in aluminum.”

3d printing prototype

Stephane Reau, Technical Deputy Director at SODIMAS, demonstrating a Stratasys FDM 3D printed jig

Since it began using Stratasys 3D printing solutions for prototyping, SODIMAS engineers have become accustomed to the terrific time-savings and added flexibility they deliver.

“As a mechanical engineer, I am very often using our Stratasys 3D Printer. I send my part design directly to the Fortus through the provided Insight software so that I can have the part in a few hours on my desk,” said Mathilde Richy, Structural Calculation Manager, SODIMAS. ”When I produce the final mechanical part in metal, I have to wait about 15 days. With 3D printing, I have my part within a few hours. It allows me to assemble and validate it immediately.”

Customized Assembly Tools Boost Efficiency

Stratasys 3D printing also enables SODIMAS to design productivity-boosting assembly tools for various elevator components. So far, 15 different tools have been 3D printed using Stratasys’ super-tough ULTEM material.

“We needed to fine-tune a component on an electronic assembly and to do so we had to remove a small part and then put it back exactly in the same place. This is a challenge – placing the part in the exact right place can be tricky,” recalled Reau. “So we used our Stratasys 3D printer to create a custom jig to fit the assembly. The operator just places the jig on the assembly, then puts the part in space in the jig, and removes the jig. It takes just a few seconds.”

3D Printed Sales Tools

Creating unique training and sales tools is a natural fit for Stratasys 3D printing. SODIMAS is fully leveraging their Fortus 450mc 3D Printer for producing customized mechanical models for educating customers and staff.

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Lightweight Stratasys 3D printed elevator model next to the earlier wood-mounted version

For example, it is very important for SODIMAS customers to understand how an elevator functions inside the shaft. SODIMAS originally had a flat mechanical model mounted on a piece of wood; it was technically accurate but heavy to move around and did not provide a true three dimensional perspective. So the SODIMAS R&D department created their own 3D printed elevator model. Now customers and staff can actually see the car ride up and down in the shaft; the model is extremely easy to use and lightweight to transport.

Warehousing Expenses May Go Down In the Future

Looking forward, General Manager Patrice Arnoult is exploring how SODIMAS can reduce inventory with 3D printed spare parts. “Because we have been selling elevators for 40 years, there are a lot of different types of parts that we have to keep in inventory. You can imagine the volume of stock this can represent. Now with Stratasys 3D printing we can produce some final parts by ourselves. This could allow us to provide our customers with the same service while reducing our warehousing expenses.”

3d printing prototype

SODIMAS maintains warehouses for spare part inventory and are looking to reduce inventory by 3D printing some parts on-demand.

Watch the video below to learn more about how SODIMAS uses 3D Printing to boost innovation and accelerate time to market

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Kelly Clancy

Kelly has been working in the 3D technology industry since 2014. Kelly is an Assistant Marketing Manager based at Javelin head office in Oakville, Ontario.