Mercedes announces “first 3D printed metal spare parts for trucks”

Mercedes-Benz Trucks has reportedly taken its 3D printing strategy one stage further by printing robust, heat resistant metal parts from digital data records.

3D printed - The working cavity of the laser printer at whose centre a metallic thermostat cover has been produced for the first time using selective laser melting. When the work platform is raised, the powdered aluminium/silicon material moves to the side and the contours of the component become visible – image courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
The working cavity of the laser printer at whose centre a metallic thermostat cover has been produced for the first time using selective laser melting. When the work platform is raised, the powdered aluminium/silicon material moves to the side and the contours of the component become visible – image courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Trucks.

Mercedes-Benz Trucks has 3D printed a heat resistant thermostat cover, an example of what it calls “cost-effective spare and special parts production”.

This replacement part is only ordered in small numbers, and is used in older truck and Unimog models whose production ceased around 15 years ago.

The part has been described as passing all the stages of Mercedes-Benz’s stringent quality assurance process “smoothly”.

The production of the metal parts is being made possible through digital data records and therefore saves on expensive special tools, storage and transport costs.

Head of marketing & operations for Customer Services & Parts, Andreas Deuschle commented: “We ensure the same functionality, reliability, durability and cost-effectiveness with 3D metal parts as we do with conventionally produced parts.”

For Customer Services & Parts, automotive 3D printing began in the production departments for the after-sales and replacement parts business a year ago.

Since then, the division has worked together with the researchers and pre-developers at Daimler AG to improve and expand the use of the latest 3D printing processes for plastic parts, with 3D printing of high-quality plastic components now successfully established as an additional production method – particularly for small batch production.

In the future, 3D metal printing might allow decentralised and therefore much faster, local production directly in the worldwide Mercedes-Benz production locations. This could further improve parts availability: expensive warehousing and the associated, complex transport processes would be unnecessary, with delivery times made shorter for customers.

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