ŠKODA AUTO revealed it is now employing 3D printing for the production of components, spare parts and tools. The Czech car manufacturer is making its production and logistics more flexible and efficient by using a 3D print farm based on systems from local material extrusion 3D printer manufacturer Prusa, founded by the industry legend Josef Prusa. The Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic (Svaz průmyslu a dopravy České republiky) recognized the ‘More flexible with 3D print farms’ project, considering it one of the five most innovative Industry 4.0 applications from the past year in the country.
“At ŠKODA AUTO, we use 3D printing to manufacture components and tools faster, more efficiently and more cost-effectively and make targeted use of technologies from Industry 4.0,” said Michael Oeljeklaus, ŠKODA AUTO Board Member for Production and Logistics. This is how we are implementing our FORCE program for the Future Factory and pushing ahead with digitalizing our production sites. I am delighted that our project has been recognized as one of the five most innovative approaches in the area of Industry 4.0 in the Czech Republic.”
3D print farm benefits
ŠKODA AUTO uses Prusa 3D printers, for example, in prototype production in its Pilot Hall. Plastic 3D printing is used, in particular, in the maintenance departments in vehicle production. The carmaker also employs the technology in Central Technical Service, for the production of tools and spare parts and for the testing of new materials. Furthermore, the technology is used for the production of one-off items and small series.
Currently, there are fifty 3D printers in ŠKODA AUTO’s Production and Logistics division, enabling the carmaker to apply the additive process. These are linked by a dedicated network for a working group responsible for plastic 3D printing. The largest 3D print farm, a group of ten units, is located in the body shop at the carmaker’s main plant in Mladá Boleslav. The technology makes it possible to flexibly produce the necessary tools or to carry out repairs at short notice. This means the lead time for the tools and spare parts required is significantly shorter and there is no need to keep any stock. The printed parts are added to a database, allowing them to be reproduced or adapted at any time.
Versatile and digital
In early April 2020, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic showed just how versatile 3D printing technology could be: in Technical Development, the carmaker’s own Academy and in Production at the Mladá Boleslav and Kvasiny sites, ŠKODA AUTO manufactured 1,400 protective shields for its own workforce as well as staff of various aid organizations within just two months.
Digitalization is an integral part of the company’s NEXT LEVEL – ŠKODA STRATEGY 2030
ŠKODA AUTO is fully exploiting the use of Industry 4.0 technologies and, in this context, the possibilities 3D printing has to offer. The consistent further digitalization of internal procedures and processes across the entire company is one of the cornerstones of the NEXT LEVEL – ŠKODA STRATEGY 2030.