First publishedon www.WorldHighways.com
Volvo CE says that it will utilise 3D parts printing technology to supply customers. The firm says that this will allow it to supply quality components quickly and at lower cost to customers. By using 3D parts printing the firm also says it will be able to carry out prototype testing of components more speedily than in the past.
“We are supporting customers through the life cycle of their equipment,” said Jasenko Lagumdzija, anager of Business Support at Volvo CE. “It’s especially good for older machines where the parts that have worn out are no longer made efficiently in traditional production methods. Producing new parts by 3D printing cuts down on time and costs, so it’s an efficient way of helping customers.”
The process use repeated layers of molten materials or liquids in specific patterns set by the printer’s software. The items then solidify into the required three-dimensional shape. Parts can be made of any shape and size, and for any unit in Volvo CE’s range of off-road machinery. Typical parts made by 3D printing so far include parts of a cabin, plastic coverings, and sections of air conditioning units. The company uses its own archive of drawings, 3D models and product information to feed into the printer to produce the correct new component.
“The customer is getting exactly the same part in replacing plastic with plastic,” said Annika Fries, Aftermarket Branding manager at Volvo CE. “We do a lot of quality assurance – the 3D parts have the same specifications and go through the same process as the original, and get the same warranty, so customers can be confident they are getting a genuine Volvo approved part.”
Producing new parts via the 3D printing process can take as little as one week. Fast delivery of required components maximises uptime, while being able to supply new parts to replace those for older models that are out of production can extend machine lifetime. Metal parts may be offered in future.
“Lead-times are significantly reduced with 3D printing and since there are no minimum order quantity requirements, we benefit from quicker delivery of parts, lower inventory levels in our warehouses and an improved ability to balance supply and demand,” says Daniel Kalfholm, Project Leader for Aftermarket Purchasing for Volvo CE’s EMEA region. “And it can all be carried out a purchase price that is comparable to that of a traditionally manufactured component.”
Moving forward with prototyping
In addition to 3D printing being an increasingly desirable element in the production of aftermarket parts, the process is also being used by Volvo CE in building new components for prototype machinery. The company has several 3D printers for this purpose at its research and development premises.
“As we only need to produce low volumes of parts for prototyping, it’s a good way to see what works,” says Fredrick Andersson, Development Engineer for Wheel Loaders Powertrain Installation at Volvo CE. “We have a lot of knowledge and we can make changes quickly and easily with 3D printing. And because of this, it means that the time to market for a new product is quicker, so it’s of great benefit to our company.”