As one of the largest construction equipment companies in the world, Volvo Construction Equipment (CE) has explored a wide range of technologies to help aide their processes. 3D printing is one of these technologies, and after successful testing, Volvo CE is all in, using 3D printing to create prototypes and produce spare parts, speeding up their process and lowering costs and inventory. Volve CE has now integrated the technology into two of their construction trucks. The ability to create replacement parts on-demand has increasingly brought the company benefits, and they are not alone as many OEM’s and supplies across the industry have begun to integrate 3D printing into their workflows.
“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,” said Jasenko Lagumdzija, Manager of Business Support at Volvo CE. “Producing new parts by 3D printing cuts down on time and costs, so it’s an efficient way of helping customers.”.
“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,” added Daniel Kalfholm, Project Leader for Aftermarket Purchasing for Volvo CE’s EMEA region. “And it can all be carried out [at] a purchase price that is comparable to that of a traditionally manufactured component.”
Volvo CE utilizes 3D printing in their aftermarket service, printing spare parts to send to customers whose original parts are no longer up to standard. Having the ability to produce a part – of any shape or size – for any unit of Volvo CE’s off-road machinery has transformed their business processes and increased revenue. Thus far, Volvo CE’s aftermarket service has already printed and shipped out a cabin, plastic coverings and parts of air conditioning units. With the ability to archive all the vital information for these parts – drawings, 3D models & product information – they can now 3D print new parts with ease.
“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,” Aftermarket Branding Manager at Volvo CE Annike Fries said.
In addition to creating spare parts for customers, Volvo CE also uses 3D printers to produce highly accurate prototypes.
“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,” said Fredrick Andersson, Development Engineer for Wheel Loaders Powertrain Installation at Volvo CE. “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.”
With Metal 3D printing on the rise as the next big thing in additive manufacturing technology, Volvo CE plans to offer customers metal 3D printed parts in the near future. Many experts believe that 3D printing technology will one day be developed to be able to include full production. With Volvo CE being a company focused on the future, 3D printing is undoubtedly there to stay.