Studying Feasibility: 3D Printing for Spare Parts Production

Share this Article

There are plenty of examples of 3D printed spare parts saving companies and industries money – the technology has been used to make spare parts for automobiles, metro trains, the US Marine Corpscontainer ships, and even beverage filling plants. The goal is on-demand manufacturing of spare parts, so industries can eliminate the warehouses that are full of spare parts just waiting to be put into service. As more large companies in the appliance industry are looking at 3D printed spare parts, it’s important to learn just how much the technology could potentially help.

In order to conduct a feasibility study on 3D printed spare parts, the Asia Pacific sector of multinational home appliance manufacturer Electrolux is working with Singapore startup Spare Parts 3D, which focuses on the home appliance market and seems like a rather apt partner to choose for a spare parts study.

The company’s website proclaims that companies can directly improve their bottom line when using 3D printing to manufacture spare parts. Typically, large manufacturers will hold onto a stock of spare parts for a long time, even after the corresponding appliance is no longer being produced; this common practice is done to help with after-sales repair and maintenance. However, this often causes higher inventory costs, due to the labor and maintenance costs of maintaining the warehouses the spare parts are in. In addition, production costs rise once the parts can’t be acquired through high-volume production sites, and sometimes they remain in stock for so long that they end up being surpassed by newer models and tossed out, which we can all agree is pretty wasteful.

Another cost consideration, and a time-consuming one at that, is centrally located distribution centers. Spare parts are usually warehoused at these locations, or factories, and then have to be shipped out to the end consumer, which could take days. While this time can be reduced by maintaining parts inventories in more regional warehouses, this ramps up the labor and maintenance costs again.

All of these extra costs and delivery times are avoidable, or at least able to be greatly minimized, with 3D printing technology. But as 3D printing continues to mature, Electrolux Asia Pacific wants to evaluate the on-demand and distributed production of 3D printed spare parts as a long-term solution for increasing efficiency and reducing unnecessary inventory.

If Electrolux uses 3D printing to produce on-demand parts, it will work with a network of 3D printing service providers, like Spare Parts 3D, to make the parts near the actual demand points, to make both rapid shipment and no physical inventory warehousing possible at once.

The feasibility study will perform economical and technical assessments in five steps, starting with Catalogue Selection. Spare Parts 3D will determine the best business case, and the right 3D printing criteria, that will help Electrolux increase its savings, without making additional investments. The startup will do this using two critical factors – 3D printability of the parts, and profitability as a whole. Then Spare Parts 3D will find efficient product parameters and the best materials through industrial engineering, in order to optimize the economic benefits.

Digitalization will be next, and Spare Parts 3D will complete a digital inventory that shows the optimal production parameters for the chosen parts. Once the company completes quality tests and checks on the final printed parts, it will move on to the Profitability Analysis, and compare the costs of 3D printing spare parts vs. producing them by traditional means.

According to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, spare parts suppliers are not meeting their customers’ needs. Because of this fact, the report also states that over 85% of spare parts suppliers will integrate disruptive 3D printing technology into their businesses over the next five years, in order to reduce lead time and costs, increase spare parts availability, and keep their customers happy. So it seems like a pretty smart move for Electrolux to get in on the ground floor of 3D printed spare parts, and lead the charge for other companies.

Discuss this story and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com, or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.

[Source/Images: Spare Parts 3D]

 

Share this Article


Recent News

Blueprint Launches Technology Enablement Program—Brings Greater Knowledge to 3D Printing Users

MIT: A New Fiber Ink With Electronics Embedded Inside



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

TU Delft Researchers Create Soft Robotics that Respond to Color-Based Sensors

As 3D printing and robotics continue to collide and complement each other, new machines are being created. In soft robotics, we’re seeing the emergence of a class of machines that...

MIT: Automated System Designs and 3D Prints Optimized Actuators and Displays to Spec

Actuators are complex devices that mechanically control robotic systems in response to electrical signals received. Depending on the specific application they’re used for, today’s robotic actuators have to be optimized...

Using Casting, Graphene, and SLM 3D Printing to Create Bioinspired Cilia Sensors

  What Mother Nature has already created, we humans are bound to try and recreate; case in point: biological sensors. Thanks to good old biomimicry, researchers have made their own...

Nanyang Technological University: Inkjet Printing of ZnO Micro-Sized Thin Films

In ‘Inkjet-printed ZnO thin film semiconductor for additive manufacturing of electronic devices,’ thesis student Van Thai Tran, from Nanyang Technological University, delves into the realm of fabricating products with conductive...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.


Print Services

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our 3DPrint.com.

You have Successfully Subscribed!