3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is gaining the attention of truck makers who prefer “Growing” parts in small numbers to investing in expensive production tooling. Volvo Trucks North America is using 3D printing to make customized clamps used to route wiring from a vehicle’s driver information center for customers who want a different setup. “We’ve identified low-run but critical components inside the interior where it is more cost efficient to 3D print on demand,” said Jon Walker, automotive specialist at3D printing supplier EOS North America. “If you can consolidate two or more parts into one, that’s one of the benefits,” said Terry Wohlers, an additive manufacturing expert and president of Wohlers & Associates. “You can build really complex parts where you’re taking five parts or 15 parts and consolidating them into one. That dramatically changes the economics.” 3D-printed part quality is equal to other manufactured parts for strength and dimensional accuracy, he said. Starks sees 3D printing addressing current and long-term supply chain issues, including the driver shortage and customer delivery expectations created in part by Amazon Prime’s two-day delivery pledge.

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