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Opel using 40 3D-printed assembly tools in production of ADAM ROCKS

20 August 2014

For production of Opel’s ADAM ROCKS, the company will use 40 assembly tools from a 3D printer. Among these will be an assembly jig—a specific, fixed frame—made by a 3D printer to produce the vehicle name logotype on the side window. For the windshield, a 3D-printed inlet guide is also used to simplify the mounting process and help ensure a precise alignment. Other tools from the printer are used to fasten the chrome step plate on ADAM ROCKS door openings and install the standard Swing Top canvas roof.

This equipment was developed on the computer during the development phase of ADAM ROCKS.

It enables us to quickly adapt the parts. If something changes on the vehicle, we can easily modify the tool with just a few clicks. The 3D printing process enables us to produce every imaginable form and shape. Unlike conventional manufacturing technology, we don’t have to accept any limitations.

—Virtual Simulation Engineer Sascha Holl

During 3D printing of the tools, plastic is melted and laid down in successive layers, each just 0.25 mm thick. The plastic used is light, robust and versatile. Hollow spaces and overhangs are automatically treated with a filling material, which is later washed away.

The process is comparable to bridge or balustrade construction. There high or protruding elements must also be shored up and supported until everything has hardened off. Only then is the supporting framework removed.

—Sascha Holl

The small number of jigs required in final assembly was previously made by hand in an elaborate process using a milled cast and resin. With 3D printing, the production cost of these aids is now reduced by up to 90%. In addition, the printed tools are ready to use after just about eight hours, and are up to 70% lighter in weight. Another advantage is that these aids can be mechanically and chemically processed. For example, they can be drilled, milled, sanded, varnished and bonded, or connected and combined with various other materials. Ergonomic fine-tuning can also be carried out on a PC in a matter of minutes.

Production of the Opel Insignia and Cascada convertible also benefits from 3D printed tools, which will be introduced step-by-step for the assembly of other Opel models. The new Corsa, Vivaro and Mokka, which will begin rolling off the assembly lines in Zaragoza later this year, will be among models built with the help of tools from a 3D printer.

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