AMS Spring 2023

Daimler Truck Tackles Spare Part Challenges with E-Shop for 3D Printed Parts

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Reversing the spare parts dilemma for bus operators will need 3D printing at its helm. Up until now, spare parts for buses demanded massive local stocks or complex on-demand logistics, but digitalization is changing that. This week, the owners and operators of Mercedes Benz and Setra buses revealed they can now produce the parts themselves with 3D printing thanks to a new partnership with industrial AM specialist Farsoon and IP protection and licensing pioneer Wibu-Systems.

The OMNIplus 3D Printing e-Shop

Covering every segment in the global bus market, Daimler Truck develops both the Mercedes Benz and Setra bus brands. In 2021, the manufacturer sold 455,400 units, and this year it continues to encounter a strong demand with incoming orders on a high level, order backlog at a record level, and a new label for certified used trucks. This could easily translate into thousands of spare parts on demand.

To make sure it could supply the spare parts for its buses, Daimler turned to Farsoon for the printing hardware and printing software and Wibu-Systems for the protection of both the sensitive know-how contained in the print designs and the preprint, printing, and billing process. The result is a revolutionary 3D printed parts shop. Bus operators can now go to the new OMNIplus 3D Printing License e-shop and pick the items they need from an initial selection of 100 parts, which is destined to grow fast, as Daimler Truck has already identified around 40,000 potentially 3D printable parts from their back catalog to add to the store.

3D printed spare parts for Mercedes Benz buses produced through OMNIplus. Image courtesy of OMNIplus.

All the buyers need to get the physical product in their hands is either access to their nearest OMNIplus service partner to handle the process or a certified Farsoon printer to create their own mini-factory at the point of need. Once they make their purchase, they receive three digital items. First, they get the actual digital object data, encrypted with Wibu-Systems’ CodeMeter award-winning protection technology, needed to prepare the print job with Farsoon’s Buildstar software. Then, at the checkout, the buyer receives a preprinting and a printing license, specifying exactly how many copies of the digital object they can manufacture with Farsoon’s Makestar software on one of its certified printers. Both protected and unprotected parts can be combined in one job to reduce printing costs.

Since the spare parts and components are available worldwide, around the clock, and there are no complex and resource-intensive logistics, the new system offers enormous economic and sustainable advantages. More importantly, it is an ideal implementation of the digital industry with all its flexibility, agility, user-friendliness, and overcoming challenges in supply chain disruptions.

Buying parts via the OMNIplus 3D Printing License shop feels like any online retail system, says Farsoon. The system solves two essential problems, on the one hand, there’s the protection of the digital object data, and secondly, the monetization of the entire process with a reliable license management system. Actually, Farsoon Europe Managing Director Dirk Simon predicts that the successful implementation of this revolutionary AM digital rights management system opens up completely new vistas for Farsoon’s service operations and for the availability of products where they are needed at the point of sale. The China-headquartered company caters its industrial-level polymer and metal Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) systems to customers in a wide range of industries and likely sees true manufacturing potential in providing a system similar to Daimler’s spare parts shop to other clients, such as aerospace, oil and gas, and electronic.

Setra double-decker buses. Image courtesy of Daimler Truck.

Beyond Daimler

New service concepts like the OMNIplus 3D Printing License e-shop can help create new global digital markets. Yet the challenge here is to produce parts that need protection for the intellectual property involved and to make the entire value chain correctly traceable and billable, especially since the parts are processed and printed by a third party. This is where Daimler Truck has found a solution with the potential to revolutionize the current conventional parts business.

With CodeMeter in the picture, Wibu-Systems says the crew behind the OMNIplus 3D printing service and their customers can “rest assured that their IP is secure.” The process is protected, and the parts are genuine and safe from manipulation, even if they are produced by the users themselves.

Deliberately designed to be as unobtrusive and natural as possible, the new joint solution will be showcased at the additive manufacturing expo Formnext in Hall 11.1 (at booth D69J) from November 15 through 18 in Frankfurt, Germany.

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