Tractor manufacturer John Deere has been using additive manufacturing in their prototyping for years, but have recently announced that they will be using AM in production parts. The parts in question are fuel system valves.
Read on to know more.
The thermal diverter valves are designed to maintain fuel temperature, which will enable the tractors to run better in cold weather. They will be installed on the new John Deere 6R and 6M tractors, which will be assembled at their plant in Mannheim, Germany.
The valves are printed as the interiors could not be manufactured with traditional machining processes. The interiors of these valves contain filleted interiors to enable better fluid flow, and manufacturing with milling would not be able to produce the filets and rounded internal features.
You can see the printed valves in the image below.
“Our focus on innovation and sustainability is at the core of everything we do for our customers,” said Dr. Jochen Müller, manager of global digital engineering at John Deere.
“We are proud to be among the first in the agricultural industry to leverage the benefits of 3D printing for both prototyping and final-parts production. Leveraging industrial 3D printing platforms for polymers and metals, we are discovering opportunities to deliver more efficient, reliable and sustainable equipment.”
As mentioned before, John Deere has been using AM for a while now, especially in the fabrication of prototypes, jigs and fixtures for manufacturing.
They have also used AM for the development of windshield-holders, which has resulted in the reduction of pre-assembly time from 30 days to just 10, and a reduction in cost by up to 25 percent.
They plan to expand their AM ventures in the future with a range of other initiatives, such as fabricating plastic parts for testing purposes.
Additionally, the company has the long term ambition of developing a 3D printed digital warehouse.
“We have a huge spare part organization that is very, very interested in 3D printing,” said Jochen Müller, global digital engineering manager at John Deerer.
“Usually, we have spare parts in stock for roughly 20 years, sometimes even longer, and it’s very hard to predict what to do with the available stock and how to replenish stock if you run out.”
The valves are the first time a 3D printed component has been used in a production agriculture vehicle.