MOSCOW, March 15, 2017 — As a part of modernization of its manufacturing processes Ford Sollers started printing details of special equipment for the company’s assembly line using its own 3D printer. The first parts that have been printed by the company are safety pads for the pneumatic equipment in its assembly and welding shops, which are used in the production of Ford EcoSport and Ford Fiesta. This technology has been implemented at Ford Sollers plants in Vsevolzhk and Naberezhnye Chelny, it allows to print approximately 30 various parts.
Safety pads are usually used in the production floors to ensure the workplace safety for operators of manufacturing lines. When operator grips the tooling by hand, such pads prevent the glove from getting pulled inside the automatic equipment: the cap is fixed, while the head inside the cap continues its work.
The technology of 3D printing represents a cost-effective way to manufacture various parts. Certain parts of the equipment fall out earlier than others, which makes the company replace the whole equipment. Today, thanks to 3D printing, the equipment service life becomes twice as longer.
Ford Sollers constantly explores the opportunities of 3D printing and its potential in the production floor; the company plans to expand the range of parts to be printed on its own 3D printer.
How it works
At first, a virtual model of the future part is created using a special program on a PC. Then this model is processed in software to slice the model into layers. Then the 3D printer starts to work: its printing head is being heated and melts the plastic; this melted plastic is fed from the lower part of the nozzle, printing layer by layer the final 3D product.
Materials used for 3D printing parts have excellent properties: flexible plastic Flex allows the cap to warp as if it is made of rubber, while solid ABS plastic, which is also used in the construction kits for kids, ensures the needed rigidity.