Jul 13, 2016 | By Alec

3D printing is slowly, but certainly, taking over the automotive industry. More and more major car manufacturers are adopting 3D printing for a variety of applications, from prototyping to part production, and it says a lot that respected car giants such as BMW and Rolls-Royce see the technology as an integral part of their future. But the German Daimler AG – the largest truck manufacturer on the planet – is thinking about the here and now. Starting in September, they will begin 3D printing plastic spare parts for their Mercedes-Benz trucks.

Of course this is not the first time Daimler or Mercedes-Benz have dabbled with 3D printing. In fact, Daimler was one of the first automotive corporations to experiment with 3D printing when they adopted a large volume metal 3D printer in 2012 – especially intended to replace costly early development technologies such as sand casting.

Over the years, they continued to experiment with 3D printing. They have been using the ProJet 5000 large format 3D printer as a design tool for long time now, while just last month Daimler’s Thiemo Fieger presented a new approach to automotive design at Rapid.Tech 2016 that gets the most out of additive manufacturing. The 2018 Mercedes S-Class is also expected to feature 3D printed components.

But out of all these initiatives, this newest announcement will probably affect the production chains the most. While spare parts for Mercedes-Benz trucks are currently produced in Germany and shipped all over the globe, the company will now set up 3D printing services that enable localized production of spare parts.

To do so, a huge database of spare parts is necessary, which will all be 3D printed using Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printers starting in September. And this could have a huge effect on the Daimler supply chain, as they have thousands of parts in production. According to Reuters, they are currently aiming to 3D print spring caps, air and cable ducts, clamps, mountings and control elements, among others. 3D printing should become as easy as selecting a special spare part number, they say.

What’s more, the company feels that the technology is certainly up to par, and they have previously 3D printed more 100,000 prototypes to explore it. The company is particularly keen to overhaul the supply chain for those parts which are only manufactured in very small quantities every year, but it doesn’t stop there. Daimler is also looking into 3D printing model series which are no longer produced. Who says 3D printing is unsuitable for anything other than custom production?



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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