Maximizing production efficiency with 3D printed tools, jigs, and fixtures

By using 3D printed tools, jigs, and fixtures, Volkswagen Autoeuropa reduces cycle time operation, labor, and the need for reworking, while improving tool ergonomics. Furthermore, they achieve this at a tenth of the usual cost. The company estimates that they are on track to save €325,000 by the end of 2017.



Achieving a 91% cost reduction and 95% time savings


"The timings and costs to produce tools led us to a fast ROI, better product quality, and satisfaction throughout the entire process – from development stages to the final product. Our innovative 3D printed products are being used in several areas and are considered best practices within the Volkswagen Group."

Luís Páscoa, Pilot Plant Manager at Volkswagen Autoeuropa



Challenge and solution


Before working with Ultimaker, Volkswagen Autoeuropa used third-party suppliers to manufacture their custom tools and prototypes. The process took several weeks, especially when multiple designs or assemblies were required. It also meant more paperwork, quotations, and the adoption of a trial-and-error approach, all of which were holding up the tool manufacturing process – at additional cost.


After validating the concept in 2014, Volkswagen Autoeuropa now has 7 Ultimaker 3D printers in operation, with 93% of manufactured tools previously made externally now created in-house. Within 2 years, their assembly-tooling cost savings rose – from 70% to 95%. Ultimaker enabled Volkswagen Autoeuropa to test solutions without having to contact suppliers, reducing the time taken by an average of 8 weeks.




Complete customization

A previously impractical jig or fixture design is now a viable option; function and performance become the main drivers of design, not cost or time. 3D printed tools are ergonomically pleasing, machinable, and lightweight.

Accelerated delivery

Printing parts on-demand in-house accelerates the build and delivery process, resulting in faster implementation. Using their Ultimaker 3D printers, Volkswagen Autoeuropa reduced tool development time by 95%

Unlimited revisions

Ultimaker provides the flexibility and autonomy for continuous improvement. The function and design can be verified by printing the actual part, and new iterations can be made within a few hours, with no cost penalties.


By 3D printing prototypes in-house, Volkswagen Autoeuropa achieved a 91% cost reduction when compared to working with external suppliers (approximately $171,000 in 2016 with a target to save $370,000 in 2017)