The uses of 3D Printing continues to grow, especially as more durable materials are becoming available on 3D Printers at a reasonable price point. Metal printers, in fact, are becoming more affordable. We are excited about Markforged’s Metal X 3D printer which will be available sometime in September/October 2017 which will have a price point of under $100k. If you need metal parts, that is something to consider!
I came across this article noting Daimler is starting to use 3D metal replacement parts for their Mercedes commercial trucks:
Daimler has been 3D printing plastic spare parts for older commercial trucks for about a year, and now it’s moving on to metal parts. The company recently 3D printed its first metal replacement part, a thermostat cover for older Mercedes trucks and Unimog utility vehicles. Daimler believes 3D printing could be a cost-effective way to keep spare parts available indefinitely.
Like other 3D-printed objects, the thermostat covers are made by adding material in layers until the proper shape is achieved. In this case, the material is an aluminum-silicon powder, which is melted using lasers.
Daimler claims the 3D-printed parts are just as strong as the die-cast aluminum versions installed on the trucks when they were new. The company also claims 3D printing is more cost effective than tooling up for a production run using conventional methods. That makes it perfect for producing spare parts, which are usually only ordered in small batches. It also means Daimler can make parts on demand, instead of warehousing large stockpiles.
Small batches is the key when it comes to 3D printing. It’s not meant to be a production-line ready, and pump out hundreds of parts per hour. It solvs specific problems where a quick fix is needed to keep things working. I think we will continue to see more examples of Additive Manufacturing in production environments as we move into 2018.
Let us know how we can help you. We can share what we have learned in talking with our other customers.