Mercedes-Benz to begin 3D printing truck spare parts

Mercedes-Benz Trucks has started 3D printing truck spare parts using the latest 3D SLS printing processes - image courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

In an effort to resolve a lengthy backlog in the delivery of its spare parts, from September, Mercedes-Benz is going make 30 different plastic spare parts for its cargo trucks available to 3D print.

The world’s largest truck-maker will allow businesses to being 3D printing truck spare parts as part of an innovative after sales offering and the German company has been heralded as taking on a pioneering role and technological leadership among global truck producers.

The 3D printing tuck spare parts process will be much faster and more environmentally friendly than conventional parts manufacturing, while saving on costs ordinarily needed to store and ship spare parts. As of September, Mercedes-Benz partner company, Daimler, will also offer the same 30 genuine spare parts that can be ordered and then supplied from a 3D printer.

Head of marketing & operations in the customer services and parts in the Mercedes-Benz Trucks Division, Andreas Deuschle, said that the company plans to expand the use 3D printing truck spare parts.

“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,” he said.

“However, 3D offers many more possibilities; this is why we shall be rapidly extending the production of 3D printed parts.”

A closer look at 3D printing truck spare parts

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

Some of the parts made possible by using the 3D process include covers, spacers, spring caps, air and cable ducts, clamps, mountings and control elements.

The “printed” spare parts are created with state-of-the-art 3D printers based on the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) printing process.

The printed parts will generated with this selective laser sintering process which is optimized by Daimler research and development staff, which said the initial list of 30 parts would grow as the company continuously adds new 3D printing options.

Every 3D spare part can be ordered by Mercedes-Benz customers using the special spare part number which is recorded in the order code lists and the spare parts catalogues at Mercedes-Benz Trucks.

Other examples of 3D printing parts in the Automotive industry

Daihatsu Copen owners will be able to choose from 10 Stratasys 3D printing material colors and 15 base patterns designed by Sun Junjie - image courtesy of Businesswire and Stratasys.
Daihatsu Copen owners will be able to choose from 10 Stratasys 3D printing material colors and 15 base patterns designed by Sun Junjie – image courtesy of Businesswire and Stratasys.

However, Mercedes isn’t the automotive company looking to utilise 3D printing for spare parts. Manufacturer of 3D printers, Stratasys, announced in June that Japanese automaker Daihatsu will become one of the first manufacturers to deliver on the 3D printing vision of mass customization of end-use parts through a collaboration with Stratasys and top local designers.

The collaboration saw the development of 15 ‘Effect Skins” – intricate geometric and organic patterns in 10 different colors that are 3D printed using Stratasys Fortus 3D printers – that could be used to create pattern designs for use on the front and rear bumpers and fenders of the Daihatsu Copen 2-door convertible

Similarly, additive manufacturing firm, Impossible Objects revealed earlier in the year its composite-based additive manufacturing method (CBAM) which would allow the 3D printing of Carbon Fiber-Kevlar, Fiberglass and more. The company calls the CBAM method “the first truly new 3D printing process in more than 20 years” and it has potentially brought affordable carbon 3D printing into the mainstream for uses in sectors including automotive and aerospace.