Mercedes-Benz Trucks has announced the production of its first metal 3D printed spare parts for its classic truck and Unimog models, now 15 years of out production.
Thermostat covers made from an aluminium/silicon/magnesium alloys are now 3D printed using the selective laser melting (SLM) technique for installation in a truck’s engine.
Though Mercedes has not released details of the exact machine used, it is likely that it is a Renishaw AM400. The parts delivered offer high strength, hardness, and dynamic resistance matching the company’s stringent quality assurance specifications as in comparison with conventionally die-cast aluminium parts, the 3D printed thermostat covers offer almost almost 100% density and greater material purity.
“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.” – Andreas Deuschle, Head of Marketing & Operations in Customer Services & Parts at Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
Through a partnership with Ricoh, Mercedes-Benz Trucks parent company Daimler is also implementing additive manufacturing into its rapid prototyping process, and rolling out on-demand plastic part production for its buses. It is expected that 2017 will bring great advances into the automotive additive manufacturing industry.