Volvo Establishes All 3D-Printing Facility

Volvo Trucks North America will exclusively be using 3D printig for tool and fixture production.

The successful use of additive manufacturing (AM) for Volvo’s Trucks division in France and Construction Equipment machinery parts has spurred using the technology exclusively to produce tools and fixtures at its New River Valley (NRV) truck plant in Dublin, Va.

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

Around 2015, the Lyon, France, facility began using Stratasys’ 3D printing systems. The result was a 94 percent decrease in turnaround. This prompted the company to continuing exploring its potential.

“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 Adam Crowder, manager of Advanced Manufacturing Technology.

The plant has now used selective laser sintering (SLS) technology to create more than 500 3D-printed tools and fixtures. Along with printing a one-piece diffuser used in the paint atomizer cleaning process, saving the company nearly $1,000 per part, other parts have included roof seal gauges, fuse installation platens, drilling fixtures, brake piston gauges, vacuum drill ducts, brake valve fitting gauges, hood drilling fixtures, power steering adapter holders, luggage door gap gauges and luggage door pins.

The ability to 3D print a one-piece diffuser has enhanced production and saves Volvo Trucks approximately $1,000 per part. (Image courtesy of Volvo.)

The ability to 3D print a one-piece diffuser has enhanced production and saves Volvo Trucks approximately $1,000 per part. (Image courtesy of Volvo.)

The NRV plant in Virginia is where all Volvo’s North American trucks are made. The incorporation of SLS provides the opportunity for enhanced design and production. In the end, that means less time required to build, as well as eliminating the need for outsourced parts to arrive. The process also eliminates errors during production, further providing cost and time benefits, and reduces the need for space to store excess inventory and tools.

“The NRV facility is dedicated to exploring these new technologies to further improve efficiency and quality in our manufacturing and deliver the best products to our customers in a timely manner,” Marchand said. “Thanks to the collaborative effort of the entire team around the globe, we are able to accomplish that goal through 3D printing. We plan to continue to advance this technology to benefit our customers, saving them time and money.”

Interested in more ways the transportation industry is harnessing the power of 3D printing? Check out Busses and Tractors to Receive 3D-Printed Spare Parts.