Just a year after announcing it would produce certain plastic components using 3D printing techniques, Mercedes-Benz has introduced the first ever metal 3D printed parts for trucks.
By improving the parts printing process that it pioneered with thermoplastics, the German company has adapted the technology to use aluminium.
The first ever 3D printed metal part to go into series production is a thermostat housing cover for the Unimog truck, tested to be compliant with all of the company’s stringent quality assurance processes.
A major benefit of the technology is that it allows manufacturers to continue to support older vehicles with obsolete parts, as well as those that are very rarely required and are, therefore, not held in dealer stock.
The company’s Head of Marketing and Operations for Parts, Andreas Deuschle said, “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. This gives us completely new possibilities for offering our customers spare parts rapidly and at attractive prices, even long after series production has ceased.”
The system is unique in that it means parts can be produced to order instantly, at any time and in any quantity.