Daimler Buses fulfilling customers’ individual wishes for the first time with 3D printing technology

As a technology leader in the bus and coach sector, Daimler Buses is making use of the advantages of this cutting-edge digital component and production technology. At the current point of time it is already possible to print complex parts located in the bus interior in a single step, which formerly consisted of several and in some cases even moving components. In this field Daimler Buses is drawing on over 25 years of experience with 3D printing processes in truck and prototype construction.

3D component production enables perfect solutions in response to the enquiries which are received on a daily basis from customers who are seeking special equipment features or waiting for a corresponding replacement part.

“In the medium term, we see digital production technologies as harbouring vast potential to enable us to address market and customer requirements in a flexible manner while at the same time minimising investment risks,” says Hartmut Schick, Head of Daimler Buses.

3D printing provides the bus division within the Daimler Group with a means of responding swiftly, flexibly, economically and ecologically to individual customer requests and requirements for replacement parts. In top quality and with low production costs: the 3D parts correspond to the injection moulding standards stipulated by Daimler AG, while avoiding the costs relating to tool production, component storage and the disposal of surplus materials.

The potential of 3D printing is manifest in the area of special customer requests and replacement parts at Daimler Buses, where some 780 components have been printed for customer vehicles to date. In addition, more than 150 different replacement parts for buses are currently being scrutinised and validated with regard to their feasibility as 3D printed parts.

3D printing process revolutionising the production of bus parts

Daimler Buses has perfected the production of 3D parts which are available at short notice in the special and replacement parts segment. The “printed” special and replacement parts consist of high-quality polyamide plastic components. They are created with state-of-the-art 3D printers based on the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) printing process. In this generative layer-building process the three-dimensional structures of the preprogrammed 3D part are produced layer by layer from the powder-form polyamide materials by means of a laser.

3D printing allows any desired geometry, even for complex bus components. Special parts and low-volume parts can be modified at will, adapted to customers’ special requirements and produced in an attractive design. This proves particularly economical in small series involving batches sizes from 1 to 50 units. The entire process, from the initial idea through design, costing and production to delivery, takes only a matter of days.

The customer can subsequently re-order any 3D part using a specific part number under which it is specified in the order code lists and the replacement parts catalogues of Daimler Buses. This guarantees a swift supply of replacement parts even after several decades – and worldwide.

In most cases, 3D-printed parts also prove more favourable than their conventionally produced counterparts in terms of weight, as the design engineer is no longer restricted by the constraints previously imposed by the production processes and can adapt the components ideally to the given functions, for example.

Custom-tailored 3D parts in buses and touring coaches ensure variety of parts and individuality

Numerous components are already adapted to customers’ special wishes at Daimler Buses and produced by way of the 3D printing process “at the push of a button”. Drawers, cover mouldings, retaining strips, adapter and surround rings represent just some examples of the economical production of special and replacement parts in top quality which is made possible by the 3D printing method.

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