Daimler Trucks North America to test drive SLS 3D printed spare parts

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Heavy duty vehicle manufacturer Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) has
announced that it will be 3D printing rare and spare parts on
demand to create a more efficient supply chain.

The Portland, Oregon-based vehicle company has
teamed up with 3D printing service bureau Technology House, and
will 3D print select plastic parts over a trial period using
SLS. Eligible components will also be digitalized and put into
DTNA’s digital parts warehouse.

Piloting a controlled quantity of 3D
printed parts

Over the trial period, DTNA will be 3D
printing nameplates, map pockets, and plastic covers for
customers on-demand. According to DTNA, the 3D printed parts
have been “validated to meet durability requirements” and, to
the naked eye, appear no different to traditionally
manufactured components.

The company will release “a controlled
quantity” of these 3D printed parts, and take feedback from
both customers and technicians who order them. Data will be
recorded to assess the performance and the potential future
demand for these 3D printed components.

DTNA's Freightliner robotic cab assembly in Portland. Photo via DTNA.DTNA’s Freightliner
robotic cab assembly plant in Portland showing the increased
efficiency of manufacturing there. Photo via DTNA.

Slashing delivery times

DTNA states that it is 3D printing spare parts
to better serve customers who require them for older trucks, or
those who need a component with a low intermittent
demand.

Digitalizing the parts and storing them in
DTNA’s digital warehouse will remove the need to maintain
tooling and a physical inventory. This will allow parts to be
printed on demand with shorter lead times. It will also reduce
the order process from 2-4 weeks down to a few days, once the
program is fully launched.

“Over the past 5 years, DTNA has made
significant financial and intellectual investments in the
supply chain network in order to deliver parts to our customers
faster than ever before,” said Jay Johnson, general manager of
aftermarket supply chain, at DTNA.

“What DTNA is launching today with 3D printing
is only the beginning as we continue to develop this technology
in our quest to be the benchmark for parts availability,”
Johnson added.

Mercedes-Benz Trucks engine thermostat covers after dusting off powder excess. Photo via Mercedes-Benz/DaimlerAlso using AM is sister
company Mercedes-Benz Trucks’ 3D printed engine thermostat covers
after dusting off powder excess. Photo via Mercedes-Benz/Daimler

Daimler, Mercedes-Benz and 3D
printing

With this pilot program, DTNA is following its
parent company Daimler
AG
,
which has been 3D printing spare parts for its
trucks since 2016
. DTNA’s sister company
Mercedes-Benz Trucks began SLM 3D printing metal
components earlier this year
.

In our expert interview series looking
attrends
in Additive Manufacturing for end-use
production,
 Matthias Krust, Global Business
Communications manager at Mercedes-Benz Cars Daimler
AG
, explained the importance of 3D printing spare
parts on-demand for the company’s trucks and buses.

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Featured image shows some of the vehicles for which Daimler
will 3D print spare parts. Photo via DTNA.

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