How 3D printing is changing production models

Additive manufacturing is no longer just for prototypes. Its increasing popularity and technical capabilities have pushed it into position to change the way manufacturers manage their spare parts inventory.

No matter how technologies change, or what new innovations break into the mainstream, the basic goals of manufacturing remain the same: Reduce unplanned downtime, reduce costs, eliminate unnecessary waste, etc. How fortunate it is that 3D printing (a.k.a. additive manufacturing) is one of those cool, innovative technologies that is finding itself a very nice spot in the realm of day-to-day cost and time savings. Not only can it be used to produce interesting and previously impossible designs, it has also become a useful way to change spare parts management.

When a system goes down, making the repairs needed to get it back up and running can be time-consuming. Even more so if the part that needs replacing is no longer readily available. With the right program in place, additive manufacturing can build that part on demand—whether through reverse engineering, digital files from the component supplier, or perhaps through the supplier itself.

In recent years, advances in the printing technology, in the materials that can be used, and the software control of the end-to-end workflow have fundamentally changed the way parts can be made with additive manufacturing, says John Nanry, co-founder and chief product officer at Fast Radius, which provides 3D printing services.

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Immensa recreates spare parts using 3D printing

Immensa Technology Labs, a regional additive manufacturing (AM) company, has been working closely with numerous UAE and regional organisations on projects related to AM and utilisation of the technology in their respective operations.

Outside the oil and gas sector, Consolidated Contractors Company began working with Immensa in 2017 and, by the third quarter of 2018, had implemented AM across various functions within its organisation. Other companies, including Victory Team in the marine sector, Dubai Health Authority in the healthcare sector and Etihad Group in aviation, have all embraced the technology and are leveraging the value of AM.

Industry specific

In oil and gas, several companies in the region have started exploring AM. Arabian Oasis Industries (AOI), a division of Dubai-based Al-Shirawi group, has engaged Immensa to identify how it can leverage AM in its business. Today AOI and Immensa are working on multiple projects falling into three categories: custom replacement parts, optimising existing parts and certification of industry-specific parts.
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3D printing could provide new layer of truck part availability

While it won’t go down as the most famous printing invention ever — Johannes Gutenberg’s creation seems likely to hold that title in perpetuity — few technologies in recent decades have been as developmentally groundbreaking as 3D printing.

3D Printing Machine

Introduced in the 1980s and greatly refined over the last decade, 3D printing is a production method using advanced computer technology in which the composition of a material is altered then reshaped and molded to create a three-dimensional object.

Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing is a production method with strengths and weaknesses. It’s not a great way to make everything but it is a great way to make specific products ill-suited for mass production.

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CNH Industrial 3D prints its first spare part

The company produced four spare parts for fitment on buses and agriculture equipment.

Getty Images922778062Grain Combine

According to Automotive Logistics, the company produced four spare parts for fitment on buses and agriculture equipment. Each product can be printed within 24-36 hours with the optimal amount of resources.At the time of this publication, CNH did not disclose which parts were made.

Since the spare parts were printed in plastic, CNH is now conducting tests to enable future production of metal components using the technology. 3D printing offers the benefit of local, on-demand manufacturing and removed the need for small-scale deliveries, maximizing efficiency in the aftermarket supply chain, Automotive Logistics reports.

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Busses and tractors to receive 3D-printed spare parts

(Image courtesy of New Holland.)

One application primed for disruption by 3D printing technology is the production of spare parts. After all, why house a warehouse full of odd components for just the right moment when you or a customer will need one?

This is especially true for large, unique systems and equipment, where mass production of individual specialty pieces is that much rarer. London and Amsterdam-based CNH Industrial has picked up on this insight and has begun fabricating spare parts for its industrial equipment.

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3D printing technology enhancing logistics for Army

A Soldier holds a cap used to protect the fire extinguishing system housed in the wheel wells of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. Without the cap, MRAPs are deemed non-mission-capable. Soldiers in Korea saved 1,472 operational days for their MRAPs by 3-D printing the caps for about $2.50 each.
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This photo shows a 3D printer producing six-inch cap, used to protect the fire extinguishing system housed the wheel wells of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. Soldiers in Korea identified a fire-suppression cap degradation issue and turned to 3D printing technology for help. The team requested engineering support from the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.
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FORT MEADE, Md. — As 3D printing increases both in the field and at depots, the Army’s Center of Excellence for Additive and Advanced Manufacturing is slated to reach initial operating capability this year at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois.

Lt. Gen. Aundre Piggee, the Army’s deputy chief of staff, G-4, outlined the Army’s current 3D printing capabilities at the 2019 Military Additive Manufacturing Summit and Technology Showcase Feb. 6, in Tampa, Florida. 

At the summit, defense, academia, and industry officials were privy to the latest additive manufacturing technologies, event officials said. The Army will leverage these improved 3D printing capabilities to bolster equipment readiness and reduce logistics burdens, Piggee said.

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3D printing applied to MRO of F/A-18 Hornet by U.S. Marines

A pilot looks out of the canopy of his F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft. U.S. Navy photo by Cmdr. Ian C. Anderson

At the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, southern Japan, 3D printing is now in use to keep F/A-18 Hornet multirole fighters airborne.

MCAS Iwakuni engineers have devised two products that reduce the time it takes to repair the fighter jets, saving costs for the U.S. Department of Defense. The products help with the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of the fighter jets, covering all tasks carried out to ensure the airworthiness of an flight vehicle.

The 3D printed products include an engine ship kit, designed by the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12 (MALS 12), and a plastic ring kit that helps the maintenance of the bearings on the F/A-18’s Gatling gun.

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New 3D printing service for Oil and Gas

A new additive manufacturing service aims to transform how parts are created and optimized, reducing supply chain risk, decreasing costs and boosting efficiencies for sectors such as oil and gas.

(Photo: Advisian)

Advisian Digital, the data science, software and technology business of the WorleyParsons Group, and Aurora Labs, the industrial 3D printing (3DP) technology company, have teamed up to launch an end-to-end additive manufacturing (3DP) service called AdditiveNow. The joint venture offers a range of 3D printing capabilities including advisory, design and short-run agile manufacturing.

John Bolto, specialist adviser, at Advisian Digital said, “The successes of early adopters, coupled with the 3DP expertise and resources now becoming available, offers resource businesses a huge opportunity to revolutionize their operations.

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Azoth transforms spare part supply chain with RIZE 3D printing on demand

“We have a void in our supply chain and we really see additive manufacturing helping to fill that void.”

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Following the formation of a partnership last June, PSMI (Production Services Management Inc.) has revealed how it’s reducing lead times by up to eight weeks and part costs by up to 98% with RIZE 3D printing technology.

Recognising the growth tooling applications within the additive manufacturing industry, PSMI created a wholly-owned subsidiary, Azoth, to provide on-site AM solutions through “digital tool cribs” for prototype tooling, gaging, fixtures and more.

“We have a void in our supply chain and we really see additive manufacturing helping to fill that void,” said Scott Burk, President of PSMI. “The void exists for customers that need special one-off parts that the traditional tool and die shop would charge a lot of money for because they need to strip down and rebuild a machine to make those parts. Those usually take six to eight weeks or more in lead time, and the price is usually exorbitant.”

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3D printing will ‘transform’ the oil industry, says BP

BP has begun using 3D printing to manufacture components for its petrochemicals business and claims the technology could turn out to be “transformative” for the oil industry’s supply chain.

BP says 3D printing could transform oil industry supply chains

David Eyton, BP’s head of technology, said the oil giant was already using 3D printing to make specialist components used in its chemicals division such as the agitators used inside catalytic reactors.

“3D printers are fantastic for making quite bespoke devices,” Mr Eyton said. “The internals of our reactors are really quite bespoke… We can make anything now.”

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