MAN Truck & Bus prints specialized spare parts for marine engines, saving time and warehouse resources

MAN Truck & Bus – one of the world’s largest manufacturers of trucks, buses and other transport vehicles, uses 3D printing technology to produce spare parts on demand, locally and without the need for physical storage. The company has established cooperation in this area with the German production platform Replique. Starting with the production of bronze collectors for supplying cooling water to a marine engine, MAN intends to undertake further projects in the future aimed at reducing costs and further optimizing production.

In the case of machines with a special design, ensuring the supply of spare parts is often quite a challenge. Low volumes, unpredictable consumption, and sometimes long delivery times typically require stocking critical components to avoid costly equipment or machine downtime. Recently, MAN faced a challenge in the form of an urgent purchase of 10 bronze collectors for supplying cooling water to a marine engine, which were no longer in stock.

A casting mold for this critical component was unavailable. Conventional procurement methods involving pattern making, casting and machining would be both time-consuming and expensive. Ultimately, MAN began searching for an alternative solution to meet short-term demand that would also meet the high technical requirements for this highly stressed component.

Cooperation with Replique enabled the company to recreate 10 collectors in original quality using additive manufacturing technology – all that was needed was a 3D model and a production drawing. In collaboration with its material partners, Replique selected a material (m4p™ Brz10) that was technically equivalent to the original material. Manufacturing was carried out using selective laser melting (SLM) via a local 3D printing service offered by the Replique network of over 85 partners around the world.

Only about 7 weeks passed from MAN’s first inquiry to delivery of ready-to-install parts. Tensile tests carried out at MAN’s Central Materials Technology Department showed that the selected material actually had better technical properties than the original. The practical application of these parts was also successful, prompting MAN to place an additional order for 10 pieces.

Since the appropriate component has already been qualified for 3D printing and the appropriate file for printing is created and available in a digital version, containing information about the material and technology used, the collectors can be re-ordered at any time in constant quality. MAN has no fixed costs for molds and models or storage costs, resulting in attractive total costs per unit for small quantities.

Source: Replique press materials

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