Volvo Construction Equipment, Volvo CE – a leading manufacturer of construction equipment and a subsidiary of the Swedish multinational manufacturing company, The Volvo Group announced in an official release that it has introduced 3D printing to manufacture spare parts, which it will supply to its customers.
The move comes as the company aims to deliver parts to its customers quickly and efficiently, boost its productivity and match the construction industry, which has been lately using new methods such as 3D printing for efficient production.
Apart from getting into 3D printing of spare parts, the Volvo CE will also invest in 3D printing methods in research and development (R&D) of its prototype machinery.
With the help of 3D printing, the company aims to manufacture parts of any shape and size that can be used in any unit of the company’s host of off-road machinery. To give a boost to its after sales service, the company will primarily offer 3D printed spare parts made of thermoplastics to its customers especially those who require a replacement of parts that have worn out through prolonged or consistent usage of the machinery.
The company so far uses its own archive of drawings, 3D models and product information and manufactures parts such as parts of a cabin, sections of air conditioning units and plastic covering.
Speaking about how the company’s move to get into 3D printing to offer spare parts will help its customers, Jasenko Lagumdzija, Manager of Business Support at Volvo CE, said in an official statement, “We are supporting customers through the life cycle of their equipment.”
“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.” Lagumdzija added.
Providing details of how the 3D printed parts offer the same quality as that of the original part, Annika Fries, Aftermarket Branding Manager at Volvo CE added, “The customer is getting exactly the same part in replacing plastic with plastic.” “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.”
One major reason cited by the company to use 3D printing to create spare parts is that the company believes that 3D printing will help cut the product lead time into half and will also help extend the lifetime of the machine as a whole because of its ability to manufacture parts that have gone out of normal production.
Explaining more about how 3D printing will help reduce lead times for the company, Daniel Kalfholm, Project Leader for Aftermarket Purchasing for Volvo CE’s EMEA region said, “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.” And it can all be carried out a purchase price that is comparable to that of a traditionally manufactured component.”
To make the most out of the benefits that 3D printing offers, Volvo CE is also using 3D printing to build new components for its prototype machinery. In fact, the company already has different 3D printers set up for this purpose at its R&D facility.
Explaining the company’s use of 3D printing to build components for prototype machinery, Fredrick Andersson, Development Engineer for Wheel Loaders Powertrain Installation at Volvo CE said, “As we only need to produce low volumes of parts for prototyping, it’s a good way to see what works.”
“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,” Andersson concluded.
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