Nissan - implementation of 3D printed tools, devices and accessories
Nissan uses a small farm of BCN3D printers to produce 700 tools, attachments and fixtures at its Barcelona plant. To view the specification of each part, BCN3D has developed a digital library. The use of 3D printers allowed the company to save a lot of time and money, while shortening the work from one week to one day, making the costs 20 times lower.
Nissan is ahead of the competition with the dynamic implementation of 3D-printed tools, jigs and fixtures on its assembly lines.
Nissan is a world-renowned automotive company that, together with Alliance Partners Renault and Mitsubishi, sells 1 in 10 cars worldwide. Nissan was founded in 1933 and the company's emphasis was on innovation from the very beginning. The constant introduction of new technologies made it time for 3D printing. The team from the Barcelona factory decided to use a small BCN3D printer farm to create various tools, attachments and fixtures. The use of FFF technology in the factory allowed to save time and money.
Nissan Printed Tools
The constant evolution of the Nissan plant in Barcelona means that the Nissan team often faces the challenge of producing new parts and then developing innovative and versatile techniques to take this into account.
“Every year we’re printing a total amount of approximately 100 jigs and tools with a specific use in our processes.” – Carlos Rellán Martínez, Manager of Maintenance & Engineering Facilities at Nissan Motor Ibérica Zona Franca, Barcelona.
The work process before introducing 3D printing to the factory.
Prior to introducing 3D printing to the factory, Nissan outsourced all prototypes and specific test equipment for minor changes to suppliers using traditional manufacturing methods. is the loss of two vital aspects of running a production line: time and money. In addition, outsourcing projects to external companies was associated with unreliability issues, and the tight schedule limited the company in terms of flexibility.
The process of designing and refining the model for printing at an external supplier took a week. The Nissan team found that using 3D printing in their factory can cut turnaround times to just one day. In terms of costs, the cost of using methods such as CNC and drilling was about 20 times higher than that of 3D printing.
“To increase the added value: generating low costs, and without generating high delivery times. We paid off the investment very quickly.’ – Enric Ridao, Trim & Chassis Manufacturing Kaizen Engineer at Nissan Motor Ibérica Zona Franca, Barcelona.
“When we started in 2014, for the first simple tool we wanted to print we were offered costs of around 400€ for machining. Instead, we did it here on our factory premises and with 3 tools we had already amortized the machine.” – Enric Ridao, Trim & Chassis Manufacturing Kaizen Engineer at Nissan Motor Ibérica Zona Franca, Barcelona.
3D printing technology
Nissan's center for innovation led the team to create the Observers 4.0 3D printing program across Nissan's stores in Barcelona. In 2014, the team undertook a deeper understanding of 3D printing technology, starting with participation in the RepRapBCN workshop.
“With the objective not only to introduce this technology in Nissan Motor Ibèrica, but to empower our staff in this technology.” – Carlos Rellán Martínez, Manager of Maintenance & Engineering Facilities at Nissan Motor Ibérica Zona Franca, Barcelona.
After the team demonstrated the value of the BCN3D machines, Nissan used a Sigmax printer and later a small farm. The 3D printing design process proved easier, and the independent dual extrusion system (IDEX) allowed the team to work twice as fast, doubling the efficiency.
“The performance achieved in terms of reliability has been excellent.” – Carlos Rellán Martínez, Manager of Maintenance & Engineering Facilities at Nissan Motor Ibérica Zona Franca, Barcelona.
The following device is the windshield centering gauge that maintains the correct distance between the car's A-pillar and the windshield. When attaching the gauge to automotive parts, securing one side in turn secures the other, ensuring accuracy and speeding up the process. This part measures 100 x 120 x 80 mm and cost € 8 to print using strong TPU material and took a total of 14 hours.
Consisting of 5 connected parts and measuring 1000 x 400 x 15 mm, the following part has made a name for itself as the largest 3D printed part that can be found on a Nissan today. Each part of this positioning tool took an average of 15 hours to print using technical ABS material, each costing € 21.50. This part acts as a drill location indicator to be consistent with each vehicle mounted and to ensure ease of use for the operator. The tool also includes several bushings, which means that the part itself will last longer and the plastic will not be damaged.
The end piece shown below is an instrument that serves two purposes: positioning and curing the car model name on the trunk to allow the operator to correctly place the vehicle nomenclature sticker every time. The geometry of the print made it easy for the operator to place the name of the car easily, and the two indicators, which fit between the rear panels and the tailgate, ensured that the nameplate was reliably placed in the same place. This is done by using a neodymium magnet inside the 300 x 80 x 3mm part, which holds it firmly in place against the car's sheet metal. Thanks to the UV LED tape, a special glue is hardened on the bottom, welding the letters to the car's body. The part is made of ABS, takes 12 hours to print and costs € 3.45.
Although Nissan now uses plastics, it has also recently started testing metals in an effort to continue to innovate. The Nissan team at the Barcelona plant differs from other car makers in terms of dynamics and the ability to assemble many different car models in one plant. They took their time to gather in-depth knowledge of the 3D printing process so they could use the innovative technology to their advantage. The ability to tailor tools to their specific needs, not only to save time and costs, but also to improve workplace ergonomics and worker health, demonstrates Nissan's pioneering work and the maturity of the 3D printing process. The trust of the Nissan team and maintaining such a high standard gives our print shops a serious number of points. Saving time and money with 3D printing is truly something that any manufacturer can achieve.
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