Exclusive look: Volvo Trucks incorporates 3-D printing to aid in production

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DUBLIN, Va. (WDBJ7)— Volvo Trucks North America in the New River Valley has stepped into the future to maximize its production on the assembly line.

WDBJ7 photo

After years of internal research, Volvo has found ways to incorporate 3-D printing to produce more than 500 tools and fixtures.

This is the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) printer that uses a laser to turn powdered plastic into a solid piece.

According to printer operators, it cuts production time tremendously.

“The 3-D printing aspect allows us to essentially take what would take days to produce from traditional manufacturing, to producing within hours with the 3-D printing technology,” said Adam Crowder, the manager of advanced manufacturing technology.

Crowder and his team collect input from employees assembling the trucks to find how best to give them tools to get their job done more efficiently.

“Being able to print those parts, integrate them into a metal fixture or metal tool allows those guys to continue on machining metal, machining other items while we’re 3-D printing and integrating those tools and fixtures,” Crowder said. “It’s the early-on adoption and involvement from our operators that provide input, that tell us exactly what they need to be able to do their job better and then they work with the design engineer to design the parts, load the parts into the printer, print them and then give them to the lot.”

One of the newest tools they have made is a paint diffuser that helps in the atomizer cleaning process, which helps them save more than a thousand dollars per part. The diffuser was designed by Eddie Kinser.

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