General Motors (GM), like other automakers, is using 3D printing technology to create parts for its new vehicles, and has already leveraged the technology for prototyping and other design-related activities. The company also plans to expand its use of the technology to improve manufacturing processes at its production facilities.
According to an article in Automotive News, the company believes the technology could save them millions in annual production costs.
During a press tour of GM’s Lansing Delta Township assembly plant, the company’s director of global manufacturing integration, Dan Grieshaber, said that the company has 3D printers in most of its factories.
“We’re quickly evolving, creating real value for the plant,” he said in an interview with Automotive News. “This will become, as we progress, our footprint. We’ll have this in every one of our sites.”
According to GM, a $35,000 3D printer at the Lansing Delta Township plant has already saved the company more than $300,000 in two years on tools, accessories, and other via other applications.
Zane Meike, who leads the 3D printing initiative at that facility, said that a common tool used to align engine and transmission vehicle identification numbers originally cost the plant $3,000 to buy from an outside company. The plant can now print that same piece for less than $3.
The printer at the Lansing Delta Township plant was originally purchased to create kitting boxes for parts, but employees have come up with a variety of other uses, including making socket covers, producing part hangers, and developing ergonomic and safety tools.
In addition to the 3D printer, the plant uses a variety of other innovative technologies, including drones that conduct interior inspections and collaborative robots that can operate near human employees without safety cages.
Earlier this year, GM announced it was working with Autodesk to create 3D-printed parts for its vehicles in an effort to reduce weight and improve performance. GM is using Autodesk’s cloud computing and artificial intelligence algorithms to take a generative design approach to new parts.
Source: Automotive News