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Volvo improves quality with 3D printing technology


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.

DUBLIN, Va. — Volvo Trucks North America is using 3D printing technology extensively to produce tools and fixtures at its New River Valley (NRV) plant in Dublin, Va., the company announced Wednesday.

All trucks for the North American market are built at the site.

“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,” the company said.

The technology has helped improve quality and precision by printing exact copies from models, it said.

The technology effectively eliminates error, increasing the chances of first time through (FTT) production of assembly tools and fixtures, streamlining the manufacturing process and enabling customers to receive end products quicker.

“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 the plant.

“Several years later, we can now say that 3D printing has become an integral component to our manufacturing processes and culture at NRV.”

Adam Crowder, manager of Advanced Manufacturing Technology at NRV, is leading a global manufacturing-focused network representing 12 Volvo Trucks plants around the world, collaborating to develop new 3D printing applications and techniques for improved manufacturing.

“While the technology has only been in use for a handful of years, it is already proving to be a valuable component of the manufacturing process at NRV, significantly saving production time and parts costs and continually improving quality,” said Crowder.

For example, the company 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.

 

 


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