Stratasys 3D printers are helping Europe’s third-largest automotive manufacturer, Opel, to slash manufacturing tool production costs by up to 90%.
The printers have also helped Opel to create 3D printing assembly tools in less than 24 hours.
According to Stratasys’ blog, Opel’s International Technical Development Center has been 3D printing a range of manufacturing and assembly tools to advance the production of its iconic ‘Adam’ hatchback car. These assembly tools are used to precisely attach different components to the car, such as: the rocker molding and roof spoilers; aligning the iconic ‘Adam’ lettering on the rear-side window; and assembling the glass and retractable roofs.
“Besides the cut in tool production time and considerable cost reductions, customized tools are a third important benefit achieved with 3D printing. We are now able to produce more complex shapes than we could via conventional manufacturing. This crucially allows us to adapt the tool to the worker and the specific car,” says Sascha Holl, a Virtual Simulation engineer at Opel’s Tool Design section.
Since Opel 3D prints its own manufacturing tools, the car maker is free to utilize its assembly-line workers in the design process. This allows operators to evaluate concepts, using their experience to highlight any potential issues before committing to the production of the final assembly tool for each specific car component.
Any required design changes to the Opel manufacturing tools are easily accommodated in a matter of hours, eliminating costly iterations further along the production process, thanks to Stratasys’ 3D printers.
“Cases like Opel emphasize the massive impact that low risk, high-reward 3D printed parts – such as manufacturing tools – can have on production efficiency,” says Andy Middleton, President, Stratasys, EMEA. “The capability to produce such items on-demand at a reduced costs can significantly accelerate time-to-production and give businesses that competitive edge. Combine that with the ability to customize tools efficiently, as well as create complex geometries, and you can see why Opel is indicative of the way in which additive manufacturing is transforming our customer’s production operations.”
Quotes, image and video by Stratasys