When the US Navy needed spare parts for certain aircraft that were hard to find, they just 3d printed those parts.
Now, Mercedes Benz has followed suit, with the company's first 3d printed metal part designed to work in their automobiles: a thermostat cover for older trucks.
It is very hard to find replacement parts for certain truck models - Mercedes owns Freightliner and Western Star - because stock is low and lead times are long.
“The particular added value of 3-D-printing technology is that it considerably increases speed and flexibility, especially when producing spare and special parts,” said Andreas Deuschle, marketing manager for Mercedes-Benz Trucks. “This gives us completely new possibilities for offering our customers spare parts rapidly and at attractive prices, even long after series production has ceased.”
Testing was done of the thermostat cover by company engineers to ensure the part could withstand the rigors of high heat and maintain the German automaker's high standards for quality. According to the company, the thermostat cover will be used in truck models that haven't been manufactured in the last 15 years.
“We ensure the same functionality, reliability, durability and cost-effectiveness with 3-D metal parts as we do with conventionally produced parts,” Deuschle said.