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Case example: spare parts

Demonstrating real life case example: Producing spare parts with additive manufacturing is an existing business model.
© Aalto University

Producing spare parts with additive manufacturing is an existing business model.

The following gray cutting tool is an example from a Finnish machine manufacturing company who are pioneers in using digital spare parts. Because it is a spare part, it should ideally be produced as close to the need as possible.

Cutting tool produced with additive manufacturing

There are technical and operational benefits to producing the cutting tool with additive manufacturing. On a technical level, the tool contains several curved design features, which require numerous production steps to be undertaken when using conventional manufacturing methods. This makes it so that suppliers who have not previously manufactured the part need a lot of time to produce the part correctly. With additive manufacturing, any partner of the company with the necessary machinery can produce the part.

On the operational level, the demand of the cutting tool as a spare part is infrequent and storing it in warehouses is costly. The major benefit of additively manufacturing the cutting tool is that it does not need to be held in storage, therefore reducing inventory costs. Because the part can be freely manufactured at any of the global additive manufacturing partners of the company, the lead time is also lower.

In this case, the part could be manufactured from stainless steel (SS316L) with metal material extrusion, which is an additive manufacturing process that is advantageous for small spare parts. Alternatively, laser or binder jetting based systems could be used instead.

Extra Reading

You can find other case examples in Youtube.
3D printed spare parts for Daimler Buses | OMNIplus.
Trivium: 3D printing carbon reinforced spare machine parts.

© Aalto University
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Additive Manufacturing for Business: Practices and Ecosystem

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