GKN Driveline Florence, a plant of a global engineering company, GKN, is expanding the deployment of Stratasys 3D printing across the manufacturing floor to replace several traditional production processes.
The division has reported a reduction of almost 70% in lead times when 3D printing customized assembly tools in place of traditional plastic and several low-loaded metal tools. The team is also 3D printing replacement parts for manufacturing equipment, on-demand.
GKN Driveline services many of the world’s car manufacturers with its automotive driveline systems and solutions. As customer lead times continue to shorten, the division has identified several new factory-floor applications where 3D printing can replace traditional manufacturing processes to increase productivity.
According to Carlo Cavallini, GKN lead process engineer and team leader at the Florence plant, since the introduction of a Stratasys Fortus 450mc Production 3D Printer, his team can now produce complex assembly tools for the production line in a fraction of the time compared to traditional methods. This allows the plant to quickly undergo feasibility analysis of the tools and deploy them on the factory floor faster, accelerating the entire production schedule.
To further improve efficiencies on the factory floor, the plant is also extending the use of 3D printing to produce customized replacement parts, on-demand. The Florence plant recently 3D printed a missing cable bracket for a robot, saving at least one week versus the time it would have taken to receive the part from the supplier.
Continuing to innovate the manufacturing process with 3D printing, the team 3D printed a bespoke end-of-arm tool, which moves individual components from one stage of the production line to another. Using ULTEM 9085 3D printing material, the tool is being successfully deployed on the assembly line and can endure prolonged use to match a traditional metal part. As a result, GKN Driveline Florence now 3D prints several customized end-of-arm tools across production.
“The ability to quickly 3D print tools and parts that are customized to a specific production need gives us a new level of flexibility and significantly reduces our supply chain. Considering that we produce several thousand individual parts a week, this ability to manufacture on-demand is crucial to ensuring our production line is always operational and maintains business continuity,” explains Cavallini.
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Sources: Press materials received from the company.