The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, a technological research organisation serving both the public and private sector has undertaken a study with Aalto University on the benefits of digitalising and 3D printing spare parts.
Replacing Spare Parts Warehouses
Spare Parts are typically stored in warehouses and the costs involved are staggering due to the high maintenance needed. Furthermore, some of these parts are simply gathering dust and are disposed of after numerous years of storage. 3D printing allows spare parts to be produced on demand, eliminating both storage and wastage costs.
According to VTT project manager Sini Metsä-Kortelainen, “3D printing technology has reached the stage where high-quality manufacturing is possible. The industry now has every opportunity to boost business by making spare parts into a focus area of development. Around five percent of parts can currently be manufactured digitally according to need.”
An example spare part for a digital camera that has been 3D printed and then CNC machined for refinement. Photo via VTT
The study found that extremely old or rarely needed parts are especially suitable for digitalisation and 3D printing, owing to high value but low demand. Warehousing such spare parts is not viable.
Swedish company Electrolux has begun pilot projects with Spare Parts 3D to kickstart the process of digitalising their spare parts. The trial will undergo five stages of evaluation before any digital warehouses are initiated for 3D printed spare parts for Electrolux’s range of products.
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