Nissan has already 3D printed 700 parts in-house so far, with some costing as little as 3.45€ to fabricate

The manufacturing of tools, jigs and fixtures has been made easier for car manufacturer Nissan since it integrates 3D printing in its Barcelona-based factory.

With 700 parts produced so far, with some costing as little as 3.45€ to fabricate, Nissan said it saves so much time and costs that it envisions now to expand the use of 3D printing across other manufacturing sites.

Before the use of 3D printing in-house, the automotive player was relying on external producers who used processes such as CNC and drilling. However, a quick comparison between the two routes reveals that despite the good quality of the finished product produced with conventional manufacturing processes, lead times were quite long and costs could go up to 400€ for machining.

By printing some of these parts in-house with 3D printers, Nissan has cut the time of designing, refining and producing parts from one week to just one day and slashed costs by 95%.

At the heart of Nissan’ cost-saving solutions, there is a farm of four BCN3D printers which can run 24/7 to meet Nissan’s intense production schedule.

Since the machines are equipped with an Independent Dual Extrusion (IDEX) system, the Nissan team can print two identical components at the same time, thus crucially doubling productivity. Combined with the recently launched BCN3D Smart Cabinet, Carlos Rellán Martínez, manager of maintenance & engineering facilities at Nissan Motor Ibérica Zona Franca, said the performance achieved in terms of reliability has been excellent.

 “Our printer runs nearly 24 hours a day and every year we’re printing around 100 different jigs and tools for specific use in our processes. Outsourcing tools to a mechanical supplier was 20 times more expensive than 3D printing the same parts, while the wait for tools went from a week down to one day”, he adds.

Several products have been 3D printed using this FFF 3D printing process. They include for instance, a tool to fix a windshield centering gauge, a lower drill positioning tool and a jig to position and cure the model name on the vehicle. The fixing tool was made of TPU, cost 8€ and took a total of 14 hours to print, the positioning tool was made of ABS, took 15 hours to print and cost 21.50€ and the jig was created from ABS, took 12 hours to print and cost just 3.45€.

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