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Caterpillar drill collet hero image.
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Stratasys FDM technology helps Caterpillar keep production running.

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Aaron Pearson - October 27, 2021
Aaron Pearson - October 27, 2021

Caterpillar is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives. Since 1925, the company has been helping its customers build a better world, making sustainable progress possible and driving positive change on every continent. And as an innovator in the industries it serves, Caterpillar uses FDM Technology to 3D print tools and other manufacturing aids to reduce cost and expedite production schedules. In this first of a three-part blog series on Caterpillar’s experience with FDM Technology, we’ll look at how 3D printing helps the company avoid lengthy production delays when conventional tooling breaks down.

Caterpillar collet red.
Caterpillar collet red.

During the production of the Caterpillar 3500-series engine, a drill collet used in a machining operation is sometimes damaged during tool changes. Unfortunately, the lead time to obtain a replacement collet is four weeks and machining one in-house consumes three shifts over three working days. Although the cost to replace or machine a new collet is approximately $700 to $1000, the lost production time waiting for the replacement can cost significantly more.


To minimize the delay and cost impact, Caterpillar engineers 3D print replacement collets with ABS-M30 thermoplastic material using a Fortus 450mc 3D printer. This solution bypasses traditional supply chain time constraints involved with ordering a replacement or machining one in-house, which ties up internal resources.

Caterpillar Collet cost savings figure.
Caterpillar Collet cost savings figure.
In the end, Caterpillar’s 3D printed drill collet takes four hours to make with a material cost of about $60. More telling is the 83% lead-time savings over in-house machining and a 98% time savings compared to supplier-furnished replacements. When viewed in terms of lost production time costs, this lead-time savings equates to approximately $150,000. As a result, Caterpillar keeps several spare 3D printed collets on-hand as quick replacements when they’re needed.

 

Read our second post to learn how a 3D printed check fixture reduced repetitive rework on the Caterpillar production line. 

In the end, Caterpillar’s 3DReprinted drill collet takes four hours to make with a material cost of about $60. More telling is the 83% lead-time savings over in-house machining and a 98% time savings compared to supplier-furnished replacements. When viewed in terms of lost production time costs, this lead-time savings equates to approximately $150,000. As a result, Caterpillar keeps several spare 3D printed collets on-hand as quick replacements when they’re needed.
In the end, Caterpillar’s 3D printed drill collet takes four hours to make with a material cost of about $60. More telling is the 83% lead-time savings over in-house machining and a 98% time savings compared to supplier-furnished replacements. When viewed in terms of lost production time costs, this lead-time savings equates to approximately $150,000. As a result, Caterpillar keeps several spare 3D printed collets on-hand as quick replacements when they’re needed.
In the end, Caterpillar’s 3D printed drill collet takes four hours to make with a material cost of about $60. More telling is the 83% lead-time savings over in-house machining and a 98% time savings compared to supplier-furnished replacements. When viewed in terms of lost production time costs, this lead-time savings equates to approximately $150,000. As a result, Caterpillar keeps several spare 3D printed collets on-hand as quick replacements when they’re needed.
In the end, Caterpillar’s 3D printed drill collet takes four hours to make with a material cost of about $60. More telling is the 83% lead-time savings over in-house machining and a 98% time savings compared to supplier-furnished replacements. When viewed in terms of lost production time costs, this lead-time savings equates to approximately $150,000. As a result, Caterpillar keeps several spare 3D printed collets on-hand as quick replacements when they’re needed.