MAN Truck & Bus Partners with Replique for 3D Printed Spare Parts Production


MAN Truck & Bus, a leading producer of commercial vehicles based in Munich, partnered with BASF spin-out Replique, a digital manufacturing platform from Germany, in order to 3D print spare parts. With the help of Replique’s global network of on-demand manufacturing partners, MAN was able to source an out-of-stock bronze manifold for a marine engine, even when the casting mold for the part was not available.

MAN is a subsidiary of Traton Group, which in turn is a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group. (Traton was previously known as Volkswagen Truck & Bus AG). In 2021, Volkswagen announced its intention to 3D print 100,000 parts annually by 2025.

Using the bronze alloy m4p Brz10 and powder bed fusion (PBF) additive manufacturing (AM), MAN managed to receive its first spare parts in less than two months from its initial inquiry. According to Replique, the Central Material Technology department at MAN demonstrated that the parts printed with m4p Brz10 surpassed the original parts in tensile tests. The parts also proved successful in real-world scenarios, leading MAN to order 10 more units.

Thomas Hauck, from MAN’s Spare Parts Logistics department, mentioned in a press release regarding MAN Truck & Bus’s use of Replique for on-demand digital manufacturing, “The collaboration with Replique was seamless from our initial contact to receiving the finished parts. It enabled us to promptly assist our spare parts customers, and we are currently in the process of executing another 3D printing project with Replique.”

Dr. Max Seibert, CEO and co-founder of Replique, said, “The use of AM allows companies to overcome traditional production barriers. We are pleased to collaborate with MAN to ensure a reliable and efficient supply of spare parts in the transport and marine sectors.”

Replique sets itself apart from other digital inventory platforms by enhancing technical performance beyond the original part, notably with the use of m4p Brz10. In a discussion last summer, Henrike Wonneberger, Replique Co-founder and COO, expressed the importance of giving precedent to materials qualification in Replique’s approach.

My recent announcement corroborates the point I put forth in an article from October. It highlighted how the next evolution of AM’s expansion could largely be driven by the growing demand for automatic quality control of spare parts sourcing for sectors related to transportation. As I stated in that piece, the current status of technology backing AM-orientated distributed manufacturing means that such manufacturing still remains more of a vision than reality.

However, a collaboration between a company like Replique and MAN is exactly the type of business relationship that can pave the way for a widespread deployment of distributed 3D printing. The fact that MAN and Replique are already working on printing more spare parts suggests that by 2024, it’s quite likely that the AM sector will bring distributed production of on-demand spare parts even nearer to being a reality.

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