Oct 28, 2016 | By Benedict

The French arm of global automotive component manufacturer Bosch has been using 3D printing to cut costs on items such as grippers and connector plugs. According to Frederic Boumaza, manager of the Bosch plant in Mondeville, investment in 3D printers was recouped tenfold in a matter of weeks.

At the start of September, we reported that automotive and industrial component manufacturer Bosch had been using 3D printing equipment made by Polish manufacturer Zortrax to save time and money at its production plant in Mondeville, France. Bosch has now provided specific details about how it is using its new 3D printers and how the technology has benefited the company financially.

The most impressive claim from Bosch came from plant manager Frederic Boumaza, who reported that, after purchasing a number of Zortrax M200 3D printers, the company was able to recoup ten times its initial investment in a matter of weeks. Bosch project leader and 3D printing specialist Theophile Guettier crunched the numbers: “The cost savings we’ve already made until today [using 3D printers] are around 80,000 euros in about one year. Without the 3D printers this wouldn’t have been possible.”

In addition to cutting production and outsourcing costs, the use of 3D printing equipment has also helped Bosch to speed up operations. “We decided to work together with the company Zortrax and we’ve been able to print spare parts and some support parts for the production which let us save, first, a lot of money, but then also a lot of time,” Boumaza noted.

The Bosch plant in Mondeville is home to around 700 employees, who produce around 15 million components per year for numerous customers in the automotive and electronics industries. Although 3D printing has—so far—only been used to create a handful of components and spare parts, the benefits of the technology have been evident.

“[Before 3D printing] we used grippers which were machined and cost about 450 euros,” explained Guettier. “Now we produce them using our 3D printer for less than one euro. They’re small parts and it’s a really cost-effective solution to 3D print them.” These huge savings on important components have been complemented by other, smaller 3D printing innovations, such as protective covers for cables which quickly became frayed after being plugged in several times a day.

According to Bosch, little maintenance has been required for the 3D printing equipment—a state of affairs that has surprised Guettier and other members of the 3D printing team. Because of the low maintenance, cost-efficiency, and time-saving potential of the 3D printers, Guettier believes that other companies should follow suit by investing in additive manufacturing. “I think not using 3D printers in companies today is a real mistake,” he said. “These companies are missing something which is rising very fast and we all have to be prepared for this technology to explode in the next few years. It’s really certain, so everyone has to be prepared for it.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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