Mercedes-Benz has come up with a clever solution to out-of-production spares for classic cars – 3D printing them to save money
Mercedes-Benz is set to offer replacement components for classic models with a new 'Future meets Classic' scheme. Having previously supplied parts for commercial vehicles through the use of 3D printing techniques, the process will eventually be rolled out across the broad range of heritage cars populating the Benz stable.
Promising strict quality assurance for those seeking components for certain heritage models, Mercedes has grasped the headache scenario faced by individuals maintaining a classic Benz – replacing finicky out-of-production parts with authentic, factory-correct equivalents.
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From the inside mirror base for a 300 SL Coupé, to the spark plug holder from factory-supplied tool kits, and sliding sunroof rollers fitted to the W123, Mercedes will supply new parts via the marque’s tried-and-tested 3D printers, which will soon be available to order through local dealers.
While the range of available stock appears small, intensive cooperation between Mercedes-Benz Classic and Group Research in 3D printing will allow continuous expansion of its replacement part range. The spectrum of replacement parts which can be manufactured using the 3D printing technique extends from engine components to the smallest of plastic seals, rubber mountings and dashboard mouldings.
Boasting more than 30 years of experience in producing prototype components with 3D printing technology, the announcement underlines Daimler-Benz’s plans to supply printed parts for the company's entire vehicle range.
The German manufacturer claims innovative materials, new processes and equipment technology, digitisation and an optimised yet secure process chain will provide a basis for almost any heritage factory model.
The process is particularly well-suited to smaller quantities of model-specific trim, making it perfect for low-volume requests otherwise rendered uneconomical and providing a new option for owners and restoration workshops.
‘All printed replacement parts fulfil the high quality criteria of the Mercedes-Benz brand and correspond to the original genuine part in all its properties,’ a statement from Mercedes explained
‘This makes it possible for state-of-the-art, digital production technology to contribute to maintaining brand classics according to original specifications.’
How does 3D printing work?
A digital model, most often contained within an industry-standard CAD file, is used to determine the physical form of the object being printed. Laser beams then create the desired component geometry by process of smelting. In this process, various materials can be processed from the bed of powder present in the printer, such as metals or plastics.