3D printing in the automotive sector with carbon fiber: 77% cost savings
3D printing in the automotive industry: Markforged Mark Two saves costs with easiness of use
Based in Northamptonshire, Mahle Powertrain specialises in integrated power train for automotive solutions. The company works with some of the world’s leading OEMs, including Audi, JCB, Jaguar and Land Rover.
With over 180 employees, Mahle Powertrain’s team is involved in manufacturing, assembly and quality control of the production process.
The 3D Printer: Markforged Mark Two
The key requirement in Mahle’s production process is the ability to produce durable and durable parts. Required for 3D printing in the automotive industry. Therefore, the use of a durable base such as nylon and the ability to add reinforcement fibers. Mark Two fully met these expectations.
Having understood the benefits of 3D printing and highlighting areas of potential improvement for the company, Gavin Ellis, the Production Engineer, insisted on bringing the Markforged in-house 3D printer and using 3D technology to revolutionize the production of wear parts.
With the introduction of the 3D printer, the production time of the parts has been shortened and the purchase of new materials has also been shortened. Save time and money.
A huge advantage of incorporating 3D printing is that production costs have been reduced. Since the Mark Two was used, Mahle has replaced delrin and nylon parts with 3D onyx printed parts. Pieces of peeps have been replaced with Onyx, along with fiberglass or kevlar fiber reinforcement.
The consequence? From the analysis of the costs of the annual expenditure associated with production, the delrin spare parts, Mahle realized annual savings in the order of tens of thousands of pounds, equivalent to an average saving of 77% per piece produced.
In addition, by designing and printing in 3D, the team is able to print 3 or 4 designs for in-store testing to ensure optimal fit and performance. When a spare part on the production line is required, it is now designed and printed in 3D internally, and is designed in 3D in-house rather than being subjected to unpredictable external conditions such as purchase and delivery times. In addition, by managing the process internally, the company has more control and can be much more responsive. Overall, the production line suffers less downtime, and the risk of internal waste and customer delays is also reduced.
Changes have also been made to existing tools, such as the brush setting tool for the robotomized laundry machine.
This new solution can now be an alternative to the previous model. This prevents the workpiece from being excessively affected by wear and tear. The result? That the machine has not had to be reprogrammed for 6 months compared to the previous period with a monthly deadline. The custom made instrument is also faster to set, which means that an instrument has been changed reduced from 2 minutes to about 30 seconds.
The use of the Markforged 3D printer has enabled substantial improvements in processes that result in leaner production, allowing for changes that would not previously have been justified.
Less downtime with the Markforged printer
Now the Mahle company can also benefit from reduced downtime. Before that, it took a fairly long time to have a spare part in the production process that implemented CNC machines. Now, the broken part has been redesigned and printed 3D in onyx with kevlar. The machine is now running again within 6 hours. Previously this would have taken 3-4 days.
Gavin Ellis himself explains ”All those who used 3D prints have seen the benefits from the outset. We also have a continuous improvement system with many indications on the work process, so that colleagues can see how rotation speed using 3D printing is the main advantage here. We also notice a chain effect with colleagues who require prototype parts”.
Ultimately, the use of 3D printing has allowed the company to become slimmer thanks to innovation in the design of tailor-made parts, saving time and money and producing printed parts that last longer than previously purchased alternatives, increasing efficiency.
Don’t miss out on all the latest news on 3D printing, its applications with carbon fiber accessible to everyone thanks to Markforged, at CAE Conference 2017 in Vicenza on 6 and 7 November.