3D printing pays off for spare parts, experts say

3D printing pays off for spare parts, experts say

Business news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

3D printing is already used in many industries. Examples include light aircraft components, customized medical devices, and ready-to-use tools. This production technology has also proven itself for individual spare parts. But is it also worth it on a larger scale? Supply chain experts have developed an optimization model that takes the entire spare parts portfolio into account for the first time. The model was applied to a large real data set of a leading vehicle manufacturer, comprising more than 50,000 spare parts from nine years.

The result of the researcher’s work: 3D printing is a sensible economic alternative for a considerable proportion of spare parts. This is especially true for rarely requested parts in small quantities. “As part of customer service, manufacturers also supply their own vehicles, which have long since been phased out from series production. Spare parts are then often required less than once a year. It is precisely in these cases that 3D printing can be cheaper than traditional manufacturing,” explains Heinen. “The production costs per unit are often significantly higher than in traditional manufacturing. But instead of being tied to minimum quantities and building up large stocks, companies can produce the quantity they actually need. This saves years of storage costs.” Service can also be improved with this technology, as a manufacturer can react more quickly to customer requests.

“It is worthwhile not to leave the strategic question of the right production mix to chance. 3D printing has a lot to offer,” sums up Kai Hoberg. However, those responsible should always ensure a minimum stock level in order to avoid supply bottlenecks. The logistics expert also appeals to the far-sightedness of the decision-makers: “In order to facilitate the transition to additive production of spare parts, managers must start preparations today. The digitization of technical drawings is often a bottleneck for smooth production”.

The model used by the scientists assesses the costs throughout the entire supply chain. For example, in traditional manufacturing, costs are incurred every time a production line is converted for a different spare part. How high these costs are for a single part type depends, among other things, on the demand quantity, order and minimum order quantity or service level. Although investments are necessary in additive manufacturing (e.g. in hardware or technical drawings), significantly smaller quantities can be produced flexibly and without additional costs. The Heinen and Hoberg model calculates the optimum for key figures such as stock quantity, delivery time and production costs for each individual spare part. The result provides the basis for deciding whether the production for the respective spare parts should be converted to 3D printing. If, for example, the costs for 3D printing are four times as high as for traditional production, 3D printing is still worthwhile for up to 8 percent of all parts.

Original publication:

Related articles:

Additive manufacturing allows design of environment-friendly aircraft engines

Daimler Buses to produce spare parts via 3D printer

Market for additive printing, explained in detail

3D printer built to manufacture consumer goods at scale

If you enjoyed this article, you will like the following ones: don't miss them by subscribing to :    eeNews on Google News


Linked Articles