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

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Genuine spare parts for Mercedes-Benz trucks which are ordered and delivered even after many years; in the Mercedes-Benz Trucks after-sales service this has already been reality for a long time 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 already, 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 after-sales, Mercedes-Benz is taking on the pioneering role and technological leadership among the 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.”

Today, at Daimler more than 100 000 printed prototype parts are manufactured for the individual company divisions every year.

“We benefit from our extensive experience at Daimler with 3D printing processes in prototype construction”, comments 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. For the high quality standards of Mercedes-Benz Trucks the process parameters have been optimised and determined by the Daimler research and development 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.

Secure supply of spare parts, rapid availability and economy

The environmentally friendly and resource-conserving 3D printing process is playing a pioneering role in the after-sales. 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.

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