Genuine spare parts for Mercedes-Benz Trucks (Stuttgart, Germany), even for older models that are no longer being produced, are now available thanks to 3D printing technology. The German truck maker announced last week that it plans to make 30 3D-printed plastic spare parts available in September. The parts will be “genuine-parts quality” printed on demand, and more parts are scheduled for the company’s aftermarket parts sales.
The use of 3D printing for plastic spare parts will now be the standard production method in the customer services and parts sector, according to an announcement by Mercedes-Benz Trucks. Currently 30 genuine spare parts can be ordered and supplied at the press of a button from the 3D printer quickly, economically and in any quantity.
By adopting 3D-printing technology as an after-sales production process, Mercedes-Benz is taking on a pioneering technology leadership role among global truck producers, said the company.
“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,” said Andreas Deuschle, Head of Marketing & Operations in the Customer Services & Parts Mercedes-Benz Trucks Division. “We shall be rapidly extending the production of 3D-printed parts,” added Deuschle.
Currently, Daimler manufactures more than 100,000 printed prototype parts for the individual company divisions ever year. “We benefit from our extensive experience at Daimler with 3D-printing processes in prototype construction,” Deuschle commented in the release.
The available spare parts include covers, spacers, spring caps, cable ducts, clamps, mountings and control elements. The parts are created using the selective laser sintering process. To match the quality standards of Mercedes-Benz Trucks, the process parameters have been optimized by Daimler’s research and development divisions. Every 3D-printed 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 spare parts catalogs. Thus, even after several decades, rapid supply to the customer is ensured via the Mercedes-Benz Logistic Supply Chain all over the world.
The challenge in the spare parts business lies in securing supply even for models that are no longer in production. Producing parts for which there is minimal demand is uneconomical for suppliers, as production facilities and tools often have to be maintained for years. With the 3D-printing process, these challenges are a thing of the past, as each spare part is available on demand at short notice all over the world, said the company.
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 and eliminating warehousing. At the same time, the burden on costs and resources and the environmental impact are lessened, as there are no material surpluses, the disposal of which is very complex, said Mercedes-Benz.