The Spare Parts 3D Story: 4 Reasons Why

We Decided to 3D Print Spare Parts

Point of View | 28 February 2017

At Spare Parts 3D, we strongly believe that additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is a game-changer for the manufacturing and supply chain industries. In our opinion, 3D printing has the potential to foster industrial production in that it increases production efficiency while reducing costs. There are four reasons why we think the future of spare parts is 3D printing.

1. Spare parts can be highly costly for manufacturers

On the conventional supply chain, manufacturers tend to make spare parts in mass production as a way of saving production cost and shortening the lead time. Afterwards, they either stock all the parts in the central warehouse to reduce inventory costs, which however leads to long delivery time, or they, as a compromise to ensure quick delivery to customers, keep the parts in regional warehouses which then multiplies inventory costs. And most importantly, some spare parts stay in the warehouse for a very long time before they finally move out and some are never needed. These slow-moving parts are mostly the phased-out parts, long tails and small production batches.

Why don’t the manufacturers make to order? Because it is highly costly to produce the plastic-injected parts in small batches with all the tooling, labour, and maintenance involved. This is where 3D printing steps in. Manufacturers can collaborate with 3D printing service providers powered by a company like Spare Parts 3D who will conduct industrial engineering to make sure the printed parts meet specific requirements and provide quality assurance in production. Thanks to a network of 3D printers, the parts can be produced on demand locally and delivered quickly to customers. And this process requires no tooling or any physical inventory.

2. Customers need customized products and rapid delivery

Customers now have countless options owing to the boost of e-commerce for the last decade, which stimulated their needs for more personalized or customized products. This increasing demand must be considered for future business success. A good costumer experience is now more attributed to the quality of services provided by the company than solely the product itself. 

Professional, helpful, and high quality service and assistance before, during and after the customers’ needs are met is significant to cultivate loyal customers. Among all, promptness of goods delivery is one of the most important factors that affect customer experience. Customers expect their order to be delivered within one or two days if not in a few hours. They also demand end-to-end support, such as real time and up-to-date shipment tracking through digital channels.

3. Distributed production offers higher quality customer service

The transition from product focus to service focus is happening. New modes of communication, production, and distribution need to be implemented to catch up with the transition. An efficient communication channel definitely helps. Thanks to a customized digital process, companies can establish direct contact with each of their customers. Production and distribution also need reshaping.

Production on demand eases companies from heavy spare parts inventory, and distributed production enables them to produce closer to their customers, thus reducing the transportation and delivery time. Manufacturing must be remodelled for two reasons:

  • to fit with distributed production
  • to enable mass customization

Though new communication challenges brought by the digital revolution have been recognized, the new manufacturing and distribution options are the next big challenge for the consumer good industry.

4. We believe 3D printing is the solution

3D printing eliminates high inventory costs by digitalizing the inventory, and reduces transportation costs by leveraging local 3D printers close to the customers. Since additive manufacturing involves no tooling or production line, it is perfect for Make to Order strategy without lengthening the lead time. It also enables customers to customize their order and receive it in a short frame of time. And now that 3D printing service providers are growing in number, producing locally implies no investment and no worries.

Spare Parts 3D focuses on the home appliance market to solve the supply chain puzzle of phased-out parts, long-tails, and small production batches.

To sum up, we provide our customers with our unique 3D printing expertise to maximize their savings without involving additional investment. We help them select the best business cases for 3D printing, create a digital inventory of the 3D printable and economically profitable parts, and perform the industrialisation of the selected references to optimize the outcome.

We aim to offer our customers the best cost-saving solution. We take care of the production and distribution by leveraging our worldwide qualified network of 3D printers. Quality is our priority, and we ensure that each spare part fits the specific technical and aesthetical requirements of our customers, thanks to a standardized process control. Together with our partners, we are offering at Spare Parts 3D the next manufacturing system, delivering tomorrow’s service today.