MAN Truck & Bus, a global leader in transportation solutions, is using Replique‘s 3D printing platform for efficient spare parts manufacturing, locally, and without the need for physical inventory. Beginning with the production of bronze manifolds for a marine engine’s cooling water supply, MAN intends to pursue additional projects in the future to reduce costs and improve service.
According to Dr. Max Siebert, CEO and Co-Founder of Replique, “The use of additive manufacturing enables companies to overcome traditional production challenges. We are happy to work together with MAN to ensure a reliable and efficient supply of spare parts in the transport and marine sectors.”
Spare Parts Manufacturing Challenges
It is frequently difficult to ensure spare parts supply in special machine construction. Stocking critical components is typically required to avoid costly equipment or machine downtimes due to small quantities, unpredictable consumption, and sometimes lengthy delivery times.
In one recent instance, MAN was faced with the challenge of acquiring 10 bronze manifolds for the cooling water supply of a marine engine that were no longer in stock. This critical component’s casting mould was unavailable. Traditional procurement methods such as model creation, casting, and mechanical machining would have been time and cost-intensive. To meet the short-term demand, MAN sought an alternative solution that also met the high technical requirements for this highly stressed component.
Efficient Spare Parts Management through On-Demand 3D Printing
Through collaboration with Replique, MAN was able to reproduce the ten manifolds in original quality using additive manufacturing – all that was required was a 3D model and a manufacturing drawing. Replique chose a material (m4p™ Brz10) that was technically equivalent to the original material in collaboration with its material partners. Production was carried out using Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and a local 3D printing service from Replique’s global network of more than 85 partners.
Only about 7 weeks passed between MAN’s initial inquiry and the delivery of ready-to-install parts. Tensile tests at MAN’s Central Material Technology department revealed that the chosen material actually outperformed the original in terms of technical properties. The use of these parts in practise was also successful, prompting MAN to place an additional order for ten units.
“The collaboration with Replique was seamless from our initial contact to the moment we received the finished parts. It allowed us to promptly assist our spare parts customers, and we are already in the process of realizing another 3D printing project with Replique.”– Thomas Hauck, Spare Parts Logistics MAN
The 3D printed bronze manifolds outperform the original part’s specifications. They can be reordered at any time with consistent quality due to the digital availability of production information.
Because the relevant component has already been qualified for 3D printing and a corresponding print file, including information on the used material and technology, has been created and is digitally available, the manifolds can be reordered at any time in consistent quality. MAN has no fixed costs for moulds and models, nor does it have storage costs, resulting in low overall costs per unit for small quantities.
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