3d print trends

3D print in automotive: DTNA announces pilot

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) announced its plans for first deliveries of plastic parts produced with 3D printing technologies. What are the impacts of 3D print on global logistics?

DTNA reported that sees 3D printing as an opportunity to better serve its customers, particularly those in need of parts that have been difficult to provide through traditional supply chain models – such as parts for older trucks or components with low or intermittent demand. 

The company announced in December 2017 that it plans to release a controlled quantity of 3D printed parts during this pilot phase and invite feedback from customers and technicians that receive them. The pilot phase also includes data collection to assess the performance of the 3D-printed parts and the future potential demand.

To print the parts, DTNA partnered with 3D printing service bureau Technology House, which has over 20 years of experience in additive manufacturing. Together, the companies say they have made the first parts available to customers using selective laser sintering (SLS). SLS involves layering powder in a print chamber and then “selectively” melting a pattern with lasers before adding the next layer. 

The 3D-printed parts have been validated to meet durability requirements, and many will appear no different to the untrained eye. During the pilot phase, parts to be printed include nameplates, map pockets, and plastic covers, DTNA reported. 

Parts eligible for 3D printing are also being stored in DTNA’s digital warehouse. DTNA explained that this allows a part to be printed on demand with shorter lead times. Without the need to maintain the necessary tooling, such parts can remain available to customers whenever needed. 

On-demand 3D printing also removes the need to keep physical inventory. Currently, the order process takes 2–4 weeks, but once the program is fully launched, DTNA says parts will be able to be shipped in just a few days.

The impact of 3D printing on logistics: White Paper 

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