Volvo Construction Equipment has introduced 3D printing in order to deliver spare parts to customers more quickly and efficiently.
The company is also investing in 3D printing methods in the research and development of its prototype machinery.
“We are supporting customers through the life cycle of their equipment,” said Volvo CE business support manager Jasenko Lagumdzija. “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.”
Additive manufacturing – as 3D printing is commonly known – is the process of repeatedly layering a molten material or liquid in a specific pattern that is set by the printer’s software, until it solidifies into the required three-dimensional shape. For its aftermarket service, Volvo CE commissions the creation of spare parts made of thermoplastics to send to customers who require the replacement of a part that has worn out through natural usage.
Parts can be made of any shape and size, and for any unit in Volvo CE’s range of off-road machinery. Typical parts made by 3D printing so far include parts of a cabin, plastic coverings, and sections of air conditioning units. The company uses its own archive of drawings, 3D models and product information to feed into the printer to produce the correct new part.
“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,” said Volvo CE project leader for aftermarket purchasing Daniel Kalfholm. “And it can all be carried out a purchase price that is comparable to that of a traditionally manufactured component.”