Volvo Construction Equipment, Volvo Group’s construction division, is now 3D printing and delivering spare parts in as little as one week. The company is also using 3D printing for the development of prototype machinery.
Volvo is using thermoplastics to 3D print the spare parts. Currently, only plastic replacement parts are available.
Efficiency and cost benefits passed to customers
Jasenko Lagumdzija, Volvo CE’s Manager of Business Support, says the move should help Volvo CE “support customers through the life cycle of their equipment. It’s especially good for older machines where parts are no longer made efficiently [with] traditional production methods. Producing new parts by 3D printing with thermoplastics cuts down on time and costs, so it’s an efficient way of helping customers.”
Drawing from the company’s archives of 3D models and drawings, parts are available for any unit in Volvo CE’s range of off-road machinery. Volvo CE’s Aftermarket Branding Manager, Annika Fries, says the “3D [printed] parts have the same specifications and go through the same processes as the original, and get the same warranty.”
3D printing parts on demand lowers inventory levels needed, saving space in warehouses, and allowing the purchase price of 3D printed parts to be “comparable to that of a traditionally manufactured component.”
Extending the functional lifetime of Volvo CE’s machines
Fast delivery times, and no minimum order quantities should minimise the downtime of customers’ equipment, whilst extending the working life of Volvo CE’s older machines. Volvo CE say they are currently considering extending the catalogue of 3D printed parts offered to include Metal 3D printed parts.
Easy rapid prototyping with 3D printing
Though Volvo CE has announced no plans to use 3D printing in the manufacture of its machines, the company is using 3D printing to quickly prototype the components of new machinery. Fredrick Andersson, Development Engineer for Wheel Loaders Powertrain Installation at Volvo CE, said “We have a lot of knowledge and we can make changes quickly and easily with 3D printing. Because of this, it means that the time to market for a new product is quicker.”
Electrolux, the Swedish domestic appliance manufacturer, is trialling the use of 3D printing to produce spare parts for customers on demand. Spare Parts 3D is a start-up working to simplify the inventory management of spare parts by helping companies shift from large warehouses to digital libraries of 3D parts and a distributed network of 3D printers.
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Featured image shows a 3D printed workshop tool for mounting parts on an axle. Photo via Volvo CE.