Spares & Obsolescence Management

3D printing of spares and obsolete parts is already making a huge impact across a range of industries from consumer appliances and electronics, to transportation, aerospace and even oil & gas. A recent PwC analysis found that global aerospace MRO costs could be reduced by up to $3.4 billion, assuming that 50% of parts are printed. Even if 15% of aerospace replacement parts could be printed, it could be over $1 billion.

We have a strong track record in helping customers with spare part design and production. An example of a recent project was helping a transportation company print an obsolete part that avoided the complete replacement of the braking systems on their fleet. Other credentials include supporting various brand owners and manufacturers to avoid a complete overhaul of their existing factory systems and equipment through design enhancement followed by replication of their original spare parts.

Key opportunities for 3D printing in the management of spare parts and obsolescence can be summarized below:

  • Extend the life span of older equipment by printing obsolete parts that are no longer available from the original manufacturer
  • Reduce storage costs in the after-sales market by reducing inventory and moving to printing spare parts on demand
  • Reduce transportation costs by printing spare parts where they are needed rather than where they are stored
  • Improve equipment uptime by printing long lead time spare parts in a few days rather than waiting many weeks or months for specially commissioned parts
  • Enhance functionality and performance of spare parts through redesign and optimization

Reverse-engineer spare parts

Obtaining spare parts can be difficult for older equipment, especially if the   original  equipment manufacturers (OEM) have stopped producing that item or has gone out of business. However, often these spare parts are critical to maintain equipment up time. 3D printing is therefore an invaluable method of easily replicating the same parts to avoid drastic replacements or overhaul for time and cost savings.

Checking for fit and functionality

Prototyping is a critical step in the design of new or updated parts. It is used to check everything from look and feel, to fit and functional performance of the parts before committing to mass or bulk production. 3D Printing compacts traditional prototype production from weeks and months to just a couple of days. Complexity in change requests are also minimized with the use of appropriate design software.

Customisable High Value /Low Volume End Use Production

For industries such as robotics, satellites and drones where low volume high value parts are needed quickly for customised solutions for customers, 3D printing is the ideal technology. We can now print in carbon fibre, Kevlar and fibreglass.