3D printing reduces tool production costs by 90%

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Automotive manufacturer, Opel claims it can 3D print assembly tools in less than 24 hours ready for use on the production line by using Stratasys FDM 3D Printers, reducing tool production costs by up to 90%.

Opel was the third-largest passenger car brand in the EU in 2014, and together with Vauxhall, sold more than a million cars. Opel’s International Technical Development Centre is 3D printing a range of manufacturing and assembly tools to advance the production of its ‘Adam’ hatchback. These assembly tools are used to attach different components to the car, such as the rocker moulding and roof spoilers, align the lettering on the rear-side window, as well as assemble the glass and retractable roofs.

Sascha Holl, virtual simulation engineer at Opel said: “Besides the cut in tool production time and cost reductions, customised 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.”

Since 3D printing its manufacturing tools, the company involves its assembly-line workers in the design process to improve efficiency. This allows operators to evaluate concepts and highlight potential issues before committing to the production of the final assembly tool for each specific car component.

Andy Middleton, president, Stratasys, EMEA added: “Cases like Opel emphasise the impact that low risk, high-reward 3D printed parts can have on production efficiency. The capability to produce such items on-demand at a reduced cost can significantly accelerate time-to-production and give businesses that competitive edge.”