Caterpillar Inc. Uses 3D Printing to Save Time, Money and Manufacturing Challenges

RAPID

Share this Article

cat2We often hear about how 3D printing is not only the wave of the future, but that the technology is positioned to take the lead in the manufacturing sector. Evidence of this idea especially exists when a long-time manufacturing company adopts more 3D printing technologies to carry out its traditional work.

This is exactly the story behind Caterpillar, Inc. You may not follow the manufacturing sector closely, but you hardly need to in order to be familiar with this company. It is the world’s leading manufacturer of mining and construction equipment, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives, and natural gas and diesel engines.

cat3

Another way to describe this company is that it is rare to pass a large construction site and not see the company’s name emblazoned on one or more pieces of construction equipment. Dating back to the early twentieth century, and headquartered in Peoria, Illinois, the company now embraces the twenty-first century as a turn to 3D printing has recently helped a manufacturing process that was not going well.

cat1

At the Caterpillar transmission assembly plant in Dyersburg, Tennessee, a faulty assembly line procedure had people believing thousands of dollars would be lost as the problem was fixed. But thankfully, Caterpillar’s 3D printing team was called in and was able to 3D print a “temporary plastic tool and got it to the facility overnight, saving the line from going down. ” The fact that the tool could be made out of plastic, using 3D printing, and not metal made the process go quicker and kept the transmission assembly line from being shut down.

Jim LaHood is on Caterpillar’s 3D printing team, and he has this to say about the technology:

“The possibilities are endless in the factories. Things that are previously done out of metal that don’t need to be – like little tools and gauges – can be made from plastic now.”

LaHood also describes how money and time is saved, as 3D printing also offers a more sustainable alternative to traditional manufacturing. One example of this is “low selling parts” that have always been a big inventory, shipping, and tooling cost. What once took a year to make now can be made overnight using 3D printing.

Caterpillar also acknowledges the convenience and cost-effectiveness of on-site 3D printing capabilities, and the company is currently working on a way manufacturing sites can print parts when they need one to keep production going — exactly like what happened in Tennessee on the transmission assembly line.

Discuss this story in the Caterpillar 3D Printing forum thread on 3DPB.com

Share this Article


Recent News

Apple Watch to Use Mass 3D Printed Metal Parts from China’s Bright Laser Technologies

The Future of Multifunctional Additive Manufacturing: Insights from Nottingham’s Richard Hague



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

FABRX Sets Up Drug 3D Printing Subsidiary in the US

British pharmaceutical printing startup FABRX is now setting up a United States based company, FABRX US. To explain the move, the company noted: ¨Having already seen a strong demand for...

3D Printing News Briefs, May 4, 2024: Inkjet Materials, 3D Printed Mac Clone, & More

May the 4th be with you, fellow Star Wars fans! In this edition of 3D Printing News Briefs, Quantica and ALTANA Cubic Ink are working together to expand future inkjet...

Sponsored

Full Program Announced for July’s 2024 Additive International Summit

Running from 10th to the 11th July in Nottingham, UK, the 2024 Additive International Summit features presentations from some of the world’s leading additive manufacturing researchers and developers The full...

3D Printing News Briefs, April 27, 2024: Research, Digital Dentistry, Cycling, & More

We’re starting today’s 3D Printing News Briefs with some research into 3D printed luminescent quantum-dot polymer architectures and free-form laser beam shaping, and then on to an open source 4-axis...