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Volvo pushes ahead with 3D printing technology

In a bid to upscale faster production and continuous quality improvements, Volvo Trucks North America has committed to a prototype approach to 3D technology as it identifies new opportunities to escalate the quality of its manufacturing process.

3D technology will be used to produce tools and fixtures at its New River Valley truck assembly plant in Dublin, Virginia.

Recently, Volvo Trucks has utilised 3D printing technology to develop a one-piece diffuser used in the paint atomizer cleaning process, which has reportedly saved the company more than $1,000 per part, in addition to eliminating the need for a multiple piece component.

“Several years later, we can now say that 3D printing has become an integral component to our manufacturing processes and culture at NRV,” said Facility Vice President and General Manager Franky Marchand.

According to Volvo there are now more than 500 manufacturing tools and fixtures in use on the NRV shop floor produced using 3D printing after years of fine tuning the technology.

All parts were printed at the Volvo Innovative Projects lab at the Dublin facility using Selective Laser Sintering (SLS).

This 3D printing technology turns powdered plastic material into a solid structure through the use of a sintering laser.

Each product is then rigorously tested before being put into use in the manufacturing process according to Volvo Trucks North America.

The technology effectively eliminates error, with its capabilities to improve quality and precision by printing exact copies from models making it possible to streamline manufacturing so that customers receive end products quicker.

At present Volvo is using 3D printing technology to produce a host of gauges for roof seals, brake valves, brake pistons as well as fuse installation platens, drilling fixtures and vacuum drill ducts.

“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,” said Marchand.

“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.”

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