3D Printing for Spare Parts Industry: Application & Benefits

3D Printing can help various industries address their spare parts issues, such as old parts, obsolete parts, low volume parts, long-tail performance, etc. 3D Printing can help create significant value for your enterprise.

Why 3D Printing Spare Parts?

Currently, spare parts manufacturers cannot meet their customers’ needs; 47% of customers have looked into 3D Printing their parts. In the next five years, 85% of spare parts suppliers will incorporate 3D Printing into their business.

What are the Challenges in the Spare Parts Industry?

Inventory Storage of Spare Parts

Suppliers across the globe face a lot of difficulties in maintaining and store spare part inventory. The profit margins are positively affected due to the high operational costs needed to manage the inventory.

High Costs of Spare Parts

Buying spare parts also causes a lot of money to the customer since the production and operational costs are high.

Higher Turnaround Time

Sometimes, the spare parts’ designs are so intricate that local manufacturers depend on foreign manufacturers because the operational process is significantly affected, and the parts are not produced or delivered on time.

Wastage of Materials

We are well aware that traditional spare part manufacturing techniques like casting, milling cause a lot of material wastage. Only 30-60% of the material is used to design and produce, and the rest of the 70-40% block is disposed of. But 3D Printing reduces wastage by 95%, allowing the companies to take up a big project. It helps them save up on the production costs and provide cost-friendly parts.

What are the Benefits of 3D Printed Spare Parts?

  • A decrease in Inventory: Make-to-stock / Make-to-order Parts
  • It will improve Delivery lead times
  • It Will Solve Issues of production Interruptions due to tooling changes
  • Setup time is reduced significantly
  • Local manufacturing of parts: closing the distance gap between supply and demand points
  • Stress-free availability of parts.: Faster & Easier Logistics
  • Manufacturing within few hours: Requirement raised by stockiest – Manufacturing – Delivery to the customer within few hours

What are some of the use Cases of Application of 3D Printing for Spare Parts?

The aviation industry:

The aviation industry is adopting 3D Printing for its spare parts. Aircraft manufacturers are investing in 3D Printing to reap its numerous benefits like digital inventory.

The automotive industry:

The automotive industry is adopting 3D Printing at a massive scale for their spare parts. World-famous car manufacturers Mercedes-Benz and BMW are leading the way in embracing 3D Printing. For example, BMW has set up a 3D metal printing start-up, whereas Mercedes Benz prints 3D spare parts for their freight trucks.

The rail industry:

The rail industry invests in 3D Printing of spare parts with Deutsche Bahn and Siemens pursuing the technology. Siemens reports that printing spare parts has reduced costs and decreased dependency on suppliers to manufacture parts when it needs them.

A 3D-printed wheelset bearing cover (left) and a post-machined part [Image credit: Deutsche Bahn]

Whirlpool:

Whirlpool: an American home appliance manufacturer, has teamed up with a Singapore firm dealing with 3D Printing technology. The firm helps them to produce spare parts. Cost savings, digital inventory replacing physical inventories are among the most significant outcomes of the partnership is. If a part is broken or lost, 3D Printing will manufacture a replacement promptly.

3D printed spare parts by Whirlpool [Image credit: Whirlpool]

Porsche: 3D printing spare parts

Porsche supplies spare parts for its vintage and out-of-production models using 3D printing technology to produce rare, low-volume spare parts.

Since many of these parts are not in production anymore, the tooling required to manufacture them either doesn’t exist or is in poor condition. Manufacturing new tooling equipment with traditional methods is fundamentally cost-prohibitive, particularly considering the low volumes in mind. Porsche Classic has begun to 3D print these parts (in metal and plastic) on-demand to solve these challenges.

Porsche 3D prints various spare parts for its classic and vintage cars [Image credit: Porsche]

The Sweet Spot for Additive Manufacturing: Low Volume, High Value, Long Lead-Time Parts

Often, the sweet spot for additive manufacturing is in low-volume, high value, long lead-time parts. Why? 3D printing reduces lead times and allows you to avoid the high up-front costs of traditional manufacturing: supply chain, tooling, and setup.

On the cost side, 3D printing often eliminates tooling and setup costs associated with traditional manufacturing. These lowered fixed costs mean that production at low volumes becomes economically viable. The graph below shows visually why this happens:

The Impact
That Matters.

COST

90%

Reduction in cost

Time

95%

Reduction in Time

Supply Chain

ZERO

Inventory & warehousing

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3D Printing is set to revolutionaize the way several industries work, from Medicine to Space Exploration to Education. 
Learning and adopting 3D Prinring in your field may just be the Next Big Thing in your industry or workplace

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