How 3D Printing Breathes New Life Into Old Truck Parts

Jul 19, 2019

Historically remanufacturing has involved the removal of material as part of the process. “Additive manufacturing on the other hand involves building up material layers,” says Gene Evans, site manager, Meritor Aftermarket Remanufacturing.

Today additive manufacturing processes such as laser sintering and thermal spraying are being used in the remanufacturing process to bring worn parts or cores back to their original dimensions and 3D printing is also being used in several ways by remanufacturers.

It all adds up

Henry Foxx, director remanufacturing, Bendix, sys, “As a product gets older, the question always becomes how can we extend the life of that core? The opportunity for us to increase the useful life of the core is to thermal spray or add material back to that mechanical part. The bigger the component, the higher price of the componentry the more opportunity there is to do that.”

Additive manufacturing is being seen as beneficial to remanufacturing. “With reman you can extend the life cycle [of a component] from one cycle to between two and nine. However some of the material removal techniques like regrinding crankshafts and things like that put a limit on how many live cycles you can get out of a part,” Carl Fletcher, leader remanufacturing and aftersales development, Navistar, explains.

“If you can deposit replacement material and bring the component back to its original condition then you start to get multipliers of being able to reman a part seven, eight and nine times,” he says. “How exciting is that to be able to use a part and get nine lives out of the initial component?”

He adds that Navistar has done bore spray welding to restore cylinders and has used spray welding to restore cylinder blocks. “ [Basically] we deposited material and brought the component back to its original specifications.”

While additive manufacturing may not be new, there are more techniques coming out including cold spraying that are giving remanufacturers more options when it comes to building products back up to spec. “However a lot of them are in their infancy and we don’t quite know where they are going yet. But they will evolve over time and will make sense for our industry at some point,” Fletcher believes.

There are two primary roles for additive manufacturing in remanufacturing, according to Todd Wieland, director of research and technology, New and ReCon Parts, Cummins. “Some additive manufacturing processes (e.g., directed energy deposition) make standalone parts, but can also be applied to an existing part to repair damage or even to add features as part of converting a core to the latest specification.” The other is making miscellaneous internal components via 3D printing.

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