Volvo Trucks has reduced turnaround times on certain clamps, jigs and supports with AM.
Volvo Trucks is the latest name to announce dramatic reductions to its production lead times thanks to additive manufacturing technology.
Since incorporating Stratasys AM technology at its engine production facility in Lyon, France, the company’s turnaround times of assembly line manufacturing tools have been reduced by a staggering 94%
With Stratasys Fortus 3D Production System, the company has cut the time taken to design and manufacture certain tools traditionally produced in metal, from 36 days to just two when manufactured in thermoplastic ABSplus, in turn improving the plant’s overall efficiency and flexibility.
According to Volvo Trucks managing director, Pierre Jenny, where customised or small quantities of tools are required, the total cost of 3D printing ABS thermoplastic items can be as little as 1€/cm3, compared to up to 100€/cm3 when produced with traditional metal.
“Stratasys 3D printing has made an incredible impact to the way we work,” Jenny explained. “The capability to produce a virtually unlimited range of functional tools in such a short timeframe is unprecedented and enables us to be more experimental and inventive to improve production workflow.”
Volvo Trucks purchased its Fortus 3D Production System from Stratasys’ reseller CADvision and in just three months 3D printed more than 30 different production tools including lightweight clamps, jigs, supports and ergonomically-designed tool holders.
“We’re working in the heavy-industry sector, so reliability is naturally critical. So far every piece that we have 3D printed has proved to be 100% fit-for-purpose,” adds Jean-Marc Robin, Technical Manager, Volvo Trucks. “This is crucial from a practical aspect, but also instils trust among operators and quashes any traditional notion that everything has to be made from metal in order to function properly."
Robin added that additive manufacturing enables the equipment design team to be far more responsive and avoid waste in instances where last minute design changes are required before tools go into production.
Andy Middleton, Senior VP and General Manager, Stratasys EMEA, concluded: “As exemplified at Volvo Trucks, using additive manufacturing for tooling and work-holding devices is a reliable solution for increasing efficiency in manufacturing processes. In many cases it is also the only feasible solutions as production by traditional method is limited due to cost- or design-constraints."