World’s Biggest Truck Maker Turns to 3D Printing for Spare Parts

July 13, 2016, 2:02 PM UTC
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Daimler AG (DDAIY), the world’s largest truck manufacturer, will use three-dimensional printing (3D) to make spare parts made from plastics as digital manufacturing reshapes the vehicle supply chain.

Rather than shipping vehicle parts across the globe from Germany, Daimler can now send a digital blueprint of a spare part to a printer which can convert special inks into hardened plastics without the need for stocking or shipping the part.

As of September, Mercedes-Benz Trucks will use 3D printing processes for plastic spare parts including spring caps, air and cable ducts, clamps, mountings and control elements, Daimler said on Wednesday.

Daimler has more than 100,000 printed prototype parts, and will be expanding production using 3D printing methods, the company said.

The “printed” spare parts are created with 3D printers based on the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) printing process and ordered using the special spare part number, even for parts on models which are several decades old.

Without having to manufacture tools for each part, the 3D printing process can secure supply even for model series which are no longer produced, or for parts which are produced only in very low quantities every year.