GKN reduces lead time by 70%

Engineering Group, GKN Driveline in Florence, is expanding the deployment of its 3D printing sector across the manufacturing floor to replace several traditional production processes.

The division has reported a reduction of almost 70% in lead times when 3D printing – image courtesy of GKN

Manufacturer of 3D printers, Stratasys Ltd., has announced GKN Driveline Florence, a plant of leading global engineering company GKN, is expanding the deployment of Stratasys 3D printing across the manufacturing floor.

The division has reported a reduction of almost 70% in lead times when 3D printing customized assembly tools in place of traditional plastic and several low-loaded metal tools – eliminating expensive downtimes of the production line and ensuring business continuity.

The team is also 3D printing replacement parts for manufacturing equipment, on-demand, reducing the dependency on suppliers and accelerating part delivery to customers.

GKN Driveline services over 90% of the world’s car manufacturers with its automotive driveline systems and solutions. As well as its work for the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Group, this also includes luxury vehicles from the likes of Maserati and Ferrari.

As customer lead times continue to shorten, the division has identified several new factory-floor applications where 3D printing can replace traditional manufacturing processes to increase productivity.

According to Carlo Cavallini, GKN Lead Process Engineer and Team Leader at the Florence plant, since the introduction of a Stratasys Fortus 450mc Production 3D Printer, his team can now produce complex assembly tools for the production line in a fraction of the time compared to traditional methods.

This allows the plant to quickly undergo feasibility analysis of the tools and deploy them on the factory floor significantly faster, accelerating the entire production schedule.

This is exemplified by a recent project that saw the team redesign a greasing nozzle tool to eradicate oil spillages.

Cavallini explains: “Utilizing our 3D printer, we developed a tool that dramatically improves grease distribution and eradicates the need to clean up time-consuming spillages.

This has been crucial to streamlining the production cycle of the half shaft, enabling us to provide customers with premium quality final parts.”

To further improve efficiencies on the factory floor, the plant is also extending the use of 3D printing to produce customized replacement parts, on-demand.

The Florence plant recently 3D printed a missing cable bracket for a robot, saving at least one week versus the time it would have taken to receive the part from the supplier.

This makes GKN Driveline Florence significantly more flexible to manufacturing and maintenance requirements across the production floor.