3 Success Stories of 3D Printing in Manufacturing

3 Success Stories of 3D Printing in Manufacturing

At Hershey’s Chocolate World you can print a customized piece of chocolate with the touch of a button. You choose a shape that you want, and like magic, a 3D printer layers chocolate strip by strip until you have your shape. As futuristic as it may seem, this is just a simplified usage of additive manufacturing. 

3D printing is one of the main tools driving digital transformation in the manufacturing sector. It uses the concept of additive manufacturing to produce high quality prototypes and products at low costs and quick turnaround. 

Manufacturers of all types are beginning to recognize its power and implementing it into their processes. 

Heineken

Heineken set out to improve the overall performance of its brewery in Seville, Spain — a plant that produces over 500 million liters of beer per year. The first project aimed at improving safety. Bright red latches were 3D printed to prevent machines from turning on while maintenance is being performed. As Heineken saw success in this, it moved into 3D printing spare parts that were difficult to source, thus improving maintenance speeds. Taking 3D printing even further, Heineken began using it to print tools for equipment around the plant, instead of outsourcing CNC work. Heineken was able to reduce costs by 70-90% as well as decrease its delivery time by 70-90%, all thanks to 3D printing and its effect on output and uptime. 

GE Aviation

GE Aviation had designed a new fuel nozzle for a jet engine. It was 25% lighter, 5x more durable, and 30% more efficient than the previous fuel nozzle. But given the intricacies of its design, it could not be manufactured in a typical casting process. GE decided on 3D printing as the solution. The entire nozzle could then be manufactured in one piece and accommodate the very intricate sections of the part. In two years, GE was able to produce 33,000 of these 3D printed nozzles. The fuel nozzles are a key component in the engines of both Airbus and Boeing aircraft. 

Nissan

Nissan was able to significantly reduce costs with 3D printing. The company has been able to print over 700 unique parts, some costing less than $5. Before 3D printing, Nissan was outsourcing all of its prototypes for CNC machining. CNC quality proved to be excellent, but even the most simple tools would cost hundreds of dollars with weeks of lead time. Now that it has switched to in house printing, the company has cut lead times down to a single day and slashed costs by 95%. Printers are running 24 hours a day, at extremely low cost, to produce tools and jigs exclusive to the Nissan manufacturing processes. 

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At A4 Systems, each of our products uses 3D printing. It enables us to prototype dozens of designs as quickly as possible so we can find the most optimal solution for our customers. We even implement it in the production stage for highly customized parts at very low costs. 3D printing is a key tool in our continuous innovation and cutting edge solutions.