The largest manufacturer of trucks in the world has decided to manufacture the spare parts for its vast range of trucks using 3D printing. Daimler has joined the likes of Audi and BMW, who have both adopted additive manufacturing for producing truck spare parts on a ‘just in time’ basis. As the German company sits alongside Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz in the Daimler Chrysler Group, so this is a noteworthy development.
It plans on introducing 3D printing on a limited basis from September. Simple items such as spring caps, mountings, air and cable ducts and clamps will be produced in the beginning. However, it is almost certain that every service centre in the world will own a 3D printer eventually in order to manufacture replacement metal and plastic parts on site.
Well, the shipping part around the world are really very expensive. The reason being that large amounts of spare parts are produced by the companies so that they are capable of covering their complete catalogue of old and new vehicles which then need to be shipped globally and stored, which is plainly an inefficient and expensive process.
However, with the help pf 3D printing, they are able to keep a central database of files and each region can simply print the part as and when required. In this way, savings are enormous and the companies are also capable of speeding up their service. Additionally, another advantage of this system is they don’t need to order obscure parts from a central depot and leave a customer’s vehicle off the road while they are waiting for delivery.
It is nearly not possible to make sure that there is a healthy supply of parts available whenever a car or truck goes out of production. But, a manufactures is capable of continuing to support its older models by simply saving the files on the database with means of 3D printing. For the manufacturers, classic car enthusiasts and also commercial enterprises that count on older trucks to get them through the working week, it is a huge step forward.
A large amount has been invested by Daimler in new technology, including self-driving big rigs, new powerplants and trucks of the future. 3D printing is set to become an integral part of the production process and it will be interesting to see how the tech develops in tandem.
3D printing is believed to take over the production line at some point. However, speed is the major problem currently and brands also trust the consistency of conventional manufacturing techniques. And yet, as 3D printing comes up to speed, which has to happen at certain point, then the $45 million metal presses should be replaced by it that produce the bodywork for a Daimler truck or Mercedes-Benz passenger car at present.
Daimler is starting simple, however, more than 100,000 files need to be produced and tested by it in order to get this initiative off the ground. The manufacturer, then, is taking 3D printing seriously which is good news for everyone.
BMW has make use of 3D printing since the 90s and is already a serious convert, whereas Audi and the Volkswagen Group have gone even further. A 3D printing center has been created recently to focus on the production of steel tools by the German manufacturer which is just the latest in a long line of commitments to the process from the group that includes SEAT, Skoda, Bentley and Lamborghini.
Car manufacturers have the resources, the R&D facilities and their own unique set of demands that might assist 3D printing grow as an industry. The auto makers can be a driving force as they absolutely insist upon speed, quality and consistency in their supply chain. If 3D printing can displace the traditional production line, then, it will make the world stand up and take notice.
It will be a great advertisement and a powerful sales tool for the mass manufacturing world in case 3D printing raises its game in order to meet the auto industry’s requirements. It’s just a matter of when, not if, and when that barrier falls then it could be the tipping point we have all been waiting for anxiously.