In partnership with Replique GmbH, based in Mannheim, Germany, transport solutions provider MAN Truck & Bus is now using Additive Manufacturing to manufacture spare parts at point of need. Starting with the production of bronze manifolds, MAN aims to undertake further projects in the future to reduce costs and further optimise service.
In special machine construction, ensuring spare parts supply is often challenging, explains Replique. Small quantities, unpredictable consumption, and sometimes lengthy delivery times typically require stocking critical components to avoid costly equipment or machine downtimes.
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As an illustration of these issues, MAN urgently needed to acquire ten out-of-stock bronze manifolds for the cooling water supply of a marine engine. The casting mould for this component was unavailable, however, and conventional procurement methods (involving the creation of models, casting, and mechanical machining) would have been time and cost intensive.
The company’s search for an alternative solution led to its collaboration with Replique. Using a 3D model and a manufacturing drawing, all ten m4p™ Brz10 manifolds were able to be reproduced with Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-LB) Additive Manufacturing, undertaken by a local AM service within Replique’s partner network. From initial inquiry to delivery was seven weeks.
Tensile tests conducted at MAN’s Central Material Technology department revealed that the chosen material actually exhibited better technical properties than the original. The AM bronze manifolds were said to surpass the requirements of the original part. Due to the digital availability of production information, they can be reordered at any time with consistent quality. The use in practice of these parts has lead MAN to place an additional order for ten units.
As the relevant component has already been qualified for Additive Manufacturing and a corresponding build file is created and digitally available, including information on the used material and technology, the manifolds can be reordered at any time in consistent quality. MAN incurs no fixed costs for moulds and models or storage costs, resulting in attractive overall costs per unit for small quantities.
“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 realising another 3D printing project with Replique,” said Thomas Hauck, Spare Parts Logistics MAN.
Dr Max Siebert, CEO and co-founder of Replique, added, “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.”