Top 4 reasons why 3D Printing Spare Parts is game-changing

Point of View | Last updated: 25 June 2017

Manufacturers in various industries have benefited from fabricating spare parts with 3D printing. At Spare Parts 3D, we believe that 3D printing is a game-changer for manufacturers to transform their spare parts supply chain. 3D printing will no longer be considered a technology used solely for prototyping purposes but a technology that can reach industrial-scale production as it increases production efficiency while reducing costs

We believe that the future of spare parts will be 3D printing for the following four reasons:

1. Spare parts can be quite costly for manufacturers

Generally, manufacturers prefer mass-production of spare parts to production of small batches because the former has lower production cost and shorter lead time. Afterwards, they either stock all the parts in the central warehouse or they keep the parts in regional warehouses. However, each choice has its own drawback as keeping all parts in the central warehouse implies it will take longer to deliver the parts to the customers but stocking them in regional warehouses will generate more costs.

More importantly, some spare parts stay in the warehouse for a very long time before they are finally moved out of the warehouse and some are never even used. These slow-moving parts are mostly the phased-out parts, long tails and small production batches. 

The possible solution would be producing the parts once there is demand. However, it is quite 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 and at locations near the end-users to be quickly delivered to customers.

What’s more interesting is that this process requires no tooling or any physical inventory.

2. Traditional manufacturing isn’t flexible enough to keep up with customers’ needs

Photo by Rob Lambert on Unsplash

Customization has become an essential element that manufacturers have to take into account in order to stay competitive in the market. However, it is quite difficult to customize products or parts with traditional techniques due to their limitations.

One of the characteristics of 3D printing that makes it a game-changer for spare parts is flexibility. Engineers can customize parts or products quite fast with 3D printing and even design parts with complex structure that cannot be produced with traditional techniques. As customers now expect manufacturers to provide better and more customized parts, 3D printing can certainly help manufacturers win the hearts of their customers. 

3. Unavailability of spare parts might result in customer attrition

Unavailability of spare parts can be caused by obsolescence of inventory, interruption of supply chain, inventory depletion, and others. This makes spare parts management quite challenging. Nevertheless, 3D printing has allowed manufacturers to digitalize their spare parts inventory so that their parts can be 3D printed at locations close to their customers when there is a demand. This solves the aforementioned spare parts issues and ensures long-term availability of spare parts without incurring extra-costs. As a matter of fact, manufacturers can actually reduce costs related to warehousing with 3D printing as mentioned above.  

4. Traditional manufacturing process isn’t sustainable

Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash

Traditional manufacturing often involves removing parts of materials to form the final products or parts, rendering the removed materials unusable. In addition, keeping high levels of inventories might result in countless waste as a lot of the stocked spare parts will remain unused. On the other hand, 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, only uses the necessary amount of materials to produce parts, meaning that no materials will be removed or discarded. Furthermore, digitalization of inventory and on-demand production enabled by 3D printing allow manufacturers to avoid having excess stock levels, minimizing the number of unused and discarded spare parts.

We decided to get into spare parts from the beginning because it is a key point of several industries where 3D printing can generate significant value.

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

We aim to offer our customers the best cost-saving spare parts solutions. 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 aesthetic requirements of our customers, thanks to a standardized process control.

Together with our partners, we offer the next manufacturing system, delivering tomorrow’s service.

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