3D printed plastic parts in serial production

A joint collaboration between internal groups of experts has made it possible for the Volvo Group to put its first 3D printed part in full serial production. The printed part is a connecting block for an oil filling pipe. 1500 units are planned to be 3D printed in plastic by the supplier.

3 D In Prod 01
Källa: Philippe Grillon, Uptime & Adaptation Senior Project Manager, Volvo Group Trucks Purchasing.

This is not the first application of a printed part delivered to customers. The technology has been applied for non-standard vehicles since 2015. Over 800 parts have been delivered so far on various applications. Now the Volvo Group brings this technology to the next level, with a part that was specifically designed to use the benefits of 3D printing and fully developed following a standardized working process.

From a purchasing point of view, this project has been extremely interesting and challenging, at the same time

– Tala Janho, Adaptation Buyer

Tala Janho continues describing the process:

“The challenges included choosing a suitable supplier for a technology which is in its early introduction phase within Volvo Group, and, among a panel of potential suppliers made of start-up and other small companies, all of them having little knowledge about automotive industry. On top of this, considering the quick and constant evolution of the technology, we had to challenge our traditional ways of working, adding a significant degree of flexibility and openness in our processes.”

All parts for serial production must be quality assured and 3D printed parts are not an exception. Consequentially, the connecting block has been successfully approved according to our standard process for Production Part Approval (PPAP). Responsible for this approval process is Nicolas Beynet, Supplier Quality Assurance Engineer. According to Nicolas, securing that the supplier fully understood our requirements and expectations from the very beginning was at stake. Also, ensuring part production repeatability was the most challenging as they are not used to upper volumes. “This new supplier quickly learned about the automotive culture and expectations, with a strong willingness to become a partner for medium series”, says Nicolas Beynet.

Volvo Group Trucks Purchasing’s ambitions on 3D printing are not limited to these first steps. A global team has been set up, headed by Philippe Grillon, Uptime & Adaptation Senior Project Manager Purchasing, to actively work on creating a globally approved supplier base for additive manufacturing. Ambition is to have, at hand, new solutions to solve service parts availability issues, and to have better suited products for low volume applications.

I am proud of the team’s accomplishments to get this success. This technology is just incredible in the advantages it brings in terms of speed, agility and customer support, and this is in my view perfectly aligned with the DNA of our organization. Now full focus is given on service market cases, several RFQ’s are on-going in parallel to the strategy work, and I’m confident we will soon be able to share some more good news

– Philippe Grillon, Uptime & Adaptation Senior Project Manager Purchasing


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Artikeln är kategoriserat som Fördjupning  |  Publicerad 2018-05-08  |  Skriven av Sandra Mattsson