Daimler decentralises spare parts production – via 3D printer
The mobile printing centre is housed as a “mini-factory” in a container and includes all the relevant equipment for producing spare parts with a 3D printer on an area of 36m2. The twelve-by-three-metre container can be transported by truck to any desired location. All that is needed on site to operate the container is electricity and an internet connection.
Initially, the offer is primarily aimed at bus customers of the commercial vehicle manufacturer. It is planned to set up such printing centres at large Daimler branches as needed and to produce the required spare parts there on site. In future, bus customers will be able to purchase 3D printing licences via the Omniplus On Portal in order to have the corresponding parts produced via a certified 3D printing centre.
Currently, almost 40,000 bus spare parts are 3D printable; a certain part of them is even exclusively produced using the 3D process. Currently, a Daimler project team is working on successively digitising another 7,000 parts. However, this is not enough for the conversion – after the parts have been digitised, they also have to be tested and approved according to automotive regulations.
The pilot container now presented is to be used at Daimler’s BusWorld Home (BWH) service base in Hamburg. This service centre, which offers a wide range of services for Mercedes-Benz and Setra buses and coaches, is thus able to produce spare parts itself in a timely manner. Physical transport routes are thus shortened, the spare part reaches the customer more quickly – and the manufacturer thus saves storage costs, because the spare parts only need to be kept in stock as digital data files.
The mobile container is equipped with an industrial-grade 3D printer that produces products in original part quality. This makes Daimler Buses the first supplier to be able to deliver series quality with a mobile solution. The 3D parts are additively manufactured from high-quality polyamide and comply with the injection moulding and thermoforming production standards specified by the manufacturer. At a CAD workstation, the 3D print data is prepared in advance for the printing process. At a process station, the required powder is prepared and the printed spare part is subsequently freed from residual powder. Here, the printed spare parts can also be painted in a limited range of colours.
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