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How Additive Manufacturing can Support the Assembly System Design Process
Jönköping University, School of Engineering, JTH, Industrial Engineering and Management.
Jönköping University, School of Engineering, JTH, Industrial Engineering and Management.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

In product manufacturing, assembly approximately represents 50% of the total work hours. Therefore, an efficient and fast assembly system is crucial to get competitive advantages at the global market and have the right product quality. Today, the verification of the assembly system is mostly done by utilizing software based simulation tools even though limitations have been identified.

The purpose of this thesis is to identify when the use of additive manufacturing technology could be used in assessing the feasibility of the assembly system design. The research questions were threefold. First, identifying limitations that are connected with the used assembly simulation tools. Secondly, to investigate when additive manufacturing can act as a complement to these assembly simulations. Finally, to develop a framework that will assist the decision makers when to use additive manufacturing as a complement to assembly simulations.

The researchers used the method of case study combined with a literature review. The case study collected data from semi-structured interviews, which formed the major portion of the empirical findings. Observations in a final assembly line and the additive manufacturing workshop provided valuable insights into the complexity of assembly systems and additive manufacturing technologies. In addition, document studies of the used visualization software at the case company resulted in an enhanced understanding of the current setting.

The case study findings validate the limitations with assembly simulations described in theory. The most frequent ones are related to visibility, positioning, forces needed for the assembly operator, and accessibility between different parts. As both theory and case study findings are consistent in this respect, simulation engineers should be conscious of when to find other methods than simulation for designing the assembly system.

One such alternative method is the utilization of additive manufacturing. The thesis outlines a number of situations where additive manufacturing indeed could act as a complement to assembly simulation. The authors argue that the results and findings to a large degree are applicable to other industries as the automotive sector is very global and competitive in nature and encompasses a large variety of complex assembly operations.

A structured framework was also developed that could act as a decision support. The framework takes into account three dimensions that are crucial for the decision; (1) the assembly simulation limitation, (2) the context of the assembly and which parts are involved and (3) the possible limitations of additive manufacturing in the specific context. This impartial decision framework could help companies with complex assembly systems to know when to use additive manufacturing, as well as for which parts and subparts additive manufacturing is applicable. To increase the longevity of the decision framework, new improvements of assembly simulation tools and additive manufacturing technologies, respectively, should be incorporated in the framework. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 54 p.
Keyword [en]
Additive manufacturing, AM, 3D-printing, assembly simulation, production system development, manufacturing engineering, path planning
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-30887ISRN: JU-JTH-PRS-2-20160013OAI: diva2:943228
External cooperation
Volvo Cars
Subject / course
JTH, Production Systems
2016-05-27, Jönköping, 09:00 (English)
Available from: 2016-06-27 Created: 2016-06-27 Last updated: 2016-06-27Bibliographically approved

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