Mercedes to 3D print spares for its busses in 2020. Source: Daimler

Mercedes to 3D print spares for its busses in 2020. Source: Daimler

Mercedes: 3D printing is quick, economical, & environmentally responsible

DAIMLER Buses (sold under the brands Mercedes and Strada) announced that the company will be 3D printing spare parts next year.

According to the company, 3D printing will help deliver spare parts to customers quickly and economically — which is especially useful as most of its customers use the product for commercial operations.

What’s most interesting, however, is that Daimler pointed out that 3D printing the spare parts is an environmentally responsible choice that the company is making.

Although the current focus of the 3D printing project is on parts that are rarely ordered or arise out of special or custom requests, the company expects to be able to scale the project in the future.

Its “Centre of Competence for 3D Printing” is already examining over 300,000 different bus spare parts in detail as to their suitability as 3D printed parts. Around 200 of them have already been approved for 3D printing.

Further, the company also expects to be able to 3D print personalized interior decor components for its customers later next year.

Whether customers are looking for handle inserts, side paneling for coach seats, top-quality decorative parts for folding tables, or eye-catching customer logos for the entry area – Daimler’s 3D printing team will make it possible to for customers to choose their own decor and graphics and order them different surfaces (grained, smooth, or other alternatives).

Understanding the environment advantage of 3D printing

3D printing is a new technology and is quite exciting in the way it delivers results to customers — many of whom are still exploring use cases and evaluating commercialization opportunities.

However, the one clear advantage that it has is experts believe the technology is environmentally friendly because it produces no waste.

In standard manufacturing processes, parts are cut out of a sheet and then assembled together. The remaining sheet, however, is not always easy to reuse, especially if the product being made is a plastic component.

Further, in the commercial environment, using 3D printing means customers produce parts where they need it. As a result, things aren’t shipped from the other side of the planet, which also reduces the carbon footprint of the product overall.

Of course, there are several arguments against 3D printing, however, including the fact that the filaments used inside 3D printers often come from oil-based elements which are harmful to the environment, and that waste plastics are usually easier to recycle when compared 3D printed products.

Fortunately, with companies such as BASF creating interesting innovations in the 3D printing filaments space, the reality is that 3D printing has a real shot at being the environmentally responsible choice that Daimler (Mercedes) believes it to be.