Volvo Trucks North America harnessing 3D Printing at its Dublin-based plant. From a prototype approach, the car manufacturer now produces tools and fixtures using this manufacturing process.
In another context, we have discovered how the company leveraged 3D printing to encourage marine biodiversity.
The company manufactures all the trucks for the North American market in Dublin, Virginia. The teams have started to use 3D Printing as a temporary tool in their production facility. Over time, the technology has proven its reliability by printing exact copies from the models.
The technology reduces the number of errors and increasingly enables the chances of right first time through (FTT) production.
Volvo Trucks selected Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) as its first AM technology. Often described as the little sister of metal 3D Printing, SLS enables Volvo Trucks to reduce inventory expenses as well, eliminating space needed to house traditionally produced tools, driving costs down in end products for customers.
As a reminder SLS uses a laser to sinter powdered plastic material into a solid structure that is then rigorously tested and put into use in the manufacturing process.
Volvo Trucks used 3D printing technology to develop a one-piece diffuser used in the paint atomizer cleaning process, saving the company more than $1,000 per part, as well as eliminating the need for a multiple piece component. Spare parts were also produced for the 20 that were created so that they can easily and quickly be replaced should wear occur.
“Volvo Trucks began exploring the use of 3D technology with a prototype approach, identifying opportunities to improve quality in the manufacturing process,” said Franky Marchand, vice president and general manager of NRV. “Several years later, we can now say that 3D printing has become an integral component to our manufacturing processes and culture at NRV.”
After years of internal exploration with 3D printing technology and fine-tuning, there are now more than 500 manufacturing tools and fixtures in use on the NRV shop floor produced using 3D printing.
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