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How 3D Printing is (Quietly) Revolutionizing Trucking

3D printing is already influencing trucking and transportation in a number of ways, even if trucks yet don’t have the ability – as some predict they will – to 3D print products onboard as they are being delivered.

As Fleet Owner explains in this article,  Amazon’s patent  for 3D printing on trucks has been talked about as a potential disruptor of current trucking and supply chain norms, but casting your gaze a bit nearer on the horizon reveals new possibilities and changes right now in areas like truck parts availability/ inventorying, production costs, and time-to-market.

Fleet Owner takes a glimpse of what’s expected to soon impact the trucking industry:

Replacement truck parts will soon be printed on demand — and that could be applied to older/ discontinued models as well.

One of the latest developments in 3D printers and trucking came from European shores, and for the time being it hasn’t directly crossed over to the North American market yet. Still, starting in September, Mercedes-Benz says 30 spare parts for its Actros series trucks will be 3D printed.

The parts all will be of “consistent manufacturer’s quality” and can be made up “at the touch of a button,” the truck maker notes. The ability to make a single, given part on demand is exponentially less expensive than a traditional manufacturing run for that part, for one thing, and once a 3D printer is in place for a specific locality or region, it also eliminates the typical requisite supply and distribution network to make such a part available.

That takes a good deal of cost and time out of the maintenance parts equation, and it could also mean trucks get up and running quicker with less downtime when a trip to the shop is needed. But 3D printing spare parts for trucks also means there’s nothing stopping those parts from being produced in the years to come — essentially indefinitely.

Read full article here.

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