GKN Driveline Florence Replaces Traditional Production Processes across Factory-Floor with 3D Printing to Improve Business Performance
Using customized 3D printed tools, plant reports 70% reduction in production time of certain tools, eliminating costly downtime of the production line and ensuring business continuity
Ability to 3D print one-off replacement parts for machinery across the production floor, on-demand, sees team reduce dependency on suppliers and accelerate part delivery to customers
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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 – eliminating expensive downtimes of the production line and ensuring business continuity. The team is also 3D printing replacement parts for manufacturing equipment, on-demand, reducing the dependency on suppliers and accelerating part delivery to customers.
GKN Driveline services over 90% of the world’s car manufacturers with its automotive driveline systems and solutions. As well as its work for the
This is exemplified by a recent project that saw the team redesign a greasing nozzle tool to eradicate oil spillages. Cavallini explains: “Utilizing our 3D printer, we developed a tool that dramatically improves grease distribution and eradicates the need to clean up time-consuming spillages. This has been crucial to streamlining the production cycle of the half shaft, enabling us to provide customers with premium quality final parts.”
Geared for Customization
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. This makes GKN Driveline Florence significantly more flexible to manufacturing and maintenance requirements across the production floor.
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 high-performance 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, resulting in significant time-savings compared to its previous process.
“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.
“As we continue to design parts specifically for additive manufacturing, we are finding more and more applications that are delivering value. In the future, I believe that FDM 3D printing will become an integral part of our entire tool development cycle and help us further improve business performance,” he adds.
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