3D printing enables Mercedes-Benz Trucks to make spare parts on demand

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 13 Jul 2016

Mercedes-Benz Trucks already produces 30 spare parts with the latest 3D SLS printing processes. The spare parts for the previous Actros series are available under the official spare part numbers A 000

While it is well known that Mercedes-Benz Trucks makes and delivers genuine spare parts for its vehicles even after many years of the model, not many are aware that the truckmaker can make spare parts available on demand -- even one piece. 

Now as the next step, Mercedes-Benz Trucks is using the latest 3D printing processes for plastic spare parts as the standard production method in the Customer Services & Parts sector.

As of September, 30 genuine spare parts can be ordered and supplied at the press of a button from the 3D printer, quickly, economically, in any quantity and always in consistent genuine manufacturer's quality (‘one-piece demand’).

With the use of 3D printing technology as an innovative state-of-the-art production process in aftersales, the truckmaker says it is taking on the pioneering role and technological leadership among global truck producers. "In keeping with our brand promise 'Trucks you can trust', we set the same benchmarks for reliability, functionality, durability and economy for spare parts from 3D production as for parts from conventional production," says Andreas Deuschle, Head of Marketing & Operations in the Customer Services & Parts Mercedes-Benz Trucks Division. "However, 3D offers many more possibilities; this is why we shall be rapidly extending the production of 3D printed parts."

Experience and high tech ensure highest 3D quality

Daimler currently manufactures more than 100 000 printed prototype parts for its individual company divisions every year.

"We benefit from our extensive experience at Daimler with 3D printing processes in prototype construction," says Andreas Deuschle. The available spare parts consist of high-quality plastic components. Covers, spacers, spring caps, air and cable ducts, clamps, mountings and control elements are just a few examples of economical spare part production in top quality made possible by using the 3D printing process.

The ‘printed’ spare parts are created with state-of-the-art 3D printers based on the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) printing process. The process parameters have been optimised and determined by the Daimler R&D divisions. Every 3D spare part can be ordered by the customer using the special spare part number under which it is recorded in the order code lists and the spare parts catalogues at Mercedes-Benz Trucks. Thus, even after several decades, rapid supply to the customer is ensured via the Mercedes-Benz Logistic Supply Chain through all the sales stages – all over the world.

The 3D printing advantage

The environmentally friendly and resource-conserving 3D printing process is playing a pioneering role in the aftersales. The challenge in the spare parts business lies in securing supply even for model series which are no longer produced. This means that the range also includes spare parts for which there is only a low demand in small quantities every year. Producing them is thus increasingly uneconomical for suppliers – production facilities and tools often have to be retained and maintained for years. With the 3D printing process these challenges are a thing of the past. For every 3D spare part is available on demand at short notice all over the world.

The printing itself can take place within a very short time following receipt of the design definition and order, considerably speeding up the production and supply of spare parts. As spare and retrofit parts can still easily be ‘reprinted’ even after a long time using the data stored and supplied without any complex stocking, no warehousing is required either. At the same time the burden on costs, resources and the environment is also eased, as there are no material surpluses, the disposal of which is very complex.

Mercedes-Benz Trucks already produces 30 spare parts with the latest 3D SLS printing processes. The spare parts for the previous Actros series are available under the official spare part numbers A 000 462 0043 (left) and A 000 831 0936 (right).

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