Today, many enterprises have begun to use 3D printing technology to improve supply chain management, optimize production, and achieve agile manufacturing. With a history of nearly 30 years, FDM technology has a wide range of applications, not only for product prototyping, functional testing, but also for manufacturing tools and final parts, especially in the industrial, automotive and aerospace sectors.
GKN Driveline is the automotive division of GKN, providing Driveline systems and solutions to more than 90% of the world’s automotive manufacturers. To maintain customer satisfaction, GKN Driveline is constantly looking for ways to reduce lead times and this is achieved through the use of 3D printing in several factory floor applications.
The company recently installed a Stratasys Fortus 450MC 3D printer at its Florence plant in Italy. Notably, this 3D printer has proven to be very valuable as a production tool, helping GKN Driveline accelerate product development, reduce costs and reinvent the supply chain.
“Using a 3D printer, we have developed a tool that significantly improves grease distribution and eliminates the need for cleanup time spills,” said Carlo, GKN’s lead process engineer and team leader at the Florence plant. This is critical to simplifying the production cycle of the half-shaft and enabling us to provide our customers with quality final parts.”
The factory also uses 3D printing to create custom replacement parts on demand. The team recently 3D-printed a cable stand for the robot, saving a lot of time. Under previous practice, it would take at least a week to get replacement parts from suppliers. They also 3D-printed a custom end-of-the-arm tool that can move individual components from one stage of the production line to another.
In China, the additive manufacturing laboratory of China Eastern technology co., ltd. is equipped with Stratasys Fortus 450mc industrial grade 3D printer using ULTEM 9085 material that meets relevant requirements of FAA and CAAC25. It is the first airline in China to apply 3D-printed cabin interiors to commercial airliners. The lab developed many cabin interiors, including seat armrests, door handle covers, luggage rack locks, electronic flight bag stands and newspaper racks. Through small-batch 3D printing, China Eastern has solved the problem of long ordering cycle and high cost of fragile parts in the past, while ensuring the safe flight of its fleet and improving passengers’ ride experience.
In addition, 3D printing will gradually be deeply integrated into the aerospace spare parts market and change the supply chain system of this market. The aerospace industry has a large number of parts and complex types. 3D printing technology not only meets the flexibility of obtaining spare parts “anytime, anywhere”, but also saves the cost of keeping a large number of spare parts, simplifies inventory management and reduces the need for long-distance transportation.