Mercedes-Benz Trucks Rolls Out First Metal 3D Printed Part: An Aluminum Thermostat Cover for Older Truck Series
Car and truck manufacturer Mercedes-Benz ensures that every part for every car it’s ever produced is available in case someone wishes to purchase it. But not only does it cost a lot of money to keep up a massive stock of parts, it takes up a lot of space, and many of the company’s older spare parts aren’t possible to reproduce using conventional manufacturing technology. But its parent company, Daimler AG, uses commercial 3D printers to make over 100,000 prototype parts for each of its divisions every year, including Daimler Buses, and last summer, the Customer Services & Parts Division of Mercedes-Benz Trucks announced that it would begin offering a larger catalog of 3D printed automotive replacement parts to its customers.
3D printing the replacement parts on demand makes the process less expensive, and negates the need to keep a large backstock of parts. Customer Services & Parts has been working with Daimler researchers and pre-developers since 2016 to continue improving upon and growing the use of 3D printing technology to make plastic parts, and now the company says that 3D printing high-quality plastic components has “successfully established itself as an additional production method, and is particularly suitable for the production of smaller batches.”
“The availability of spare parts during a workshop visit is essential for our customers – no matter how old the truck is, or where it is located. The particular added value of 3D printing technology is that it considerably increases speed and flexibility, especially when producing spare and special parts,” said Andreas Deuschle, Head of Marketing & Operations in Customer Services & Parts at Mercedes-Benz Trucks. “This gives us completely new possibilities for offering our customers spare parts rapidly and at attractive prices, even long after series production has ceased.”
While 3D printing plastic components is all well and good, 3D printed metal parts offer very high strength and thermal resistance – perfect for making small batches of mechanically and thermally stressed components. The division’s first 3D printed metal spare part, a thermostat cover for older truck models, is now available, as it has passed all stages of the Mercedes-Benz quality assurance process.
Deuschle said, “With the introduction of 3D metal printing technology, Mercedes-Benz Trucks is reasserting its pioneering role among global commercial vehicle manufacturers. We ensure the same functionality, reliability, durability and cost-effectiveness with 3D metal parts as we do with conventionally produced parts.”
The 3D printed replacement parts production journey for Mercedes-Benz Trucks began with aluminum parts, like the thermostat cover, that are not ordered very often, and offer 100% density and high purity. No costly development work or special tools were needed to produce these strong parts, so this saved the company even more money. The new die-cast aluminum alloy thermostat cover, for trucks and Unimog (Universal-Motor-Gerät) models from older series that stopped production 15 years ago, is a great example of high-quality, spare metal parts produced in a cost-effective way, as it’s only ordered in small numbers.
While Mercedes-Benz uses an SLS technique to print plastic parts, SLM is used to print its metallic components, such as the thermostat cover, made with powdered aluminum/silicon material (ALSi10Mg). Due to the layering technique inherent to 3D printing, the parts can be made with a high level of geometrical freedom that’s not possible in other methods of production.
Eventually, as digitization advances, Mercedes-Benz hopes to be able to provide highly specific, cost-effective 3D printed metal components to its customers, in high OEM quality, anywhere in the world. 3D metal printing may even allow for direct, faster local production of parts in worldwide Mercedes-Benz locations, which would negate cost-prohibitive warehouses and complex transportation processes.
At the moment, Mercedes-Benz believes other replacement parts that could conceivably be 3D printed out of metal, in small numbers, include in-engine parts, peripheral engine parts, transmissions, chassis, axles, and parts in cooling systems. Discuss in the Mercedes-Benz forum at 3DPB.com.[Source/Images: Daimler]
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Stay up-to-date on all the latest news from the 3D printing industry and receive information and offers from third party vendors.
You May Also Like
Dental 3D Market Grew to $4B in 2022
SmarTech Analysis, the leading 3D printing market research firm and the sibling firm of 3DPrint.com, has released the latest iteration of one of its flagship reports, 3D Printing in Dentistry...
UltiMaker CEO Weighs in on the Release of the Method XL 3D Printer
Today, UltiMaker announced the release of the Method XL 3D printer. The XL features a 100°C heated chamber and heated build plate optimized for ABS and carbon fiber (CF) -ABS....
3D Printing News Briefs, May 17, 2023: Stress-Resistant Alloy, 3D Printed Trophies, & More
In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, we’re starting off with a little research, as materials scientists developed a 3D printing process that produces an extremely stress-resistant alloy. Moving on to...
3D Printing News Briefs, May 13, 2023: RAPID Roundup Part 2
For the second time this week, 3D Printing News Briefs is focused on news stories about RAPID + TCT! From new hires and 3D printer integrations to new 3D printers,...
Upload your 3D Models and get them printed quickly and efficiently.