Tag Archives: Spare Parts

Daimler Trucks launches 3D-printing technology in manufacturing to ease parts supply chain

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) announced Monday that it will make its first delivery of plastic parts produced using 3D printing technologies to its customers in the coming weeks, as part of a pilot programme. 

The company is confident that these new technologies will soon play a significant role in the trucking industry.

More importantly, DTNA sees 3D printing as an opportunity to better serve its customers, particularly those customers in need of parts that have been difficult to provide through traditional supply chain models, such as those for older trucks or parts with very low or intermittent demand.

During this pilot phase, DTNA says it will release a controlled quantity of 3D printed parts and will invite feedback from customers and technicians that receive them.

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What was hot in Supply Chain Technology in 2017?

When it comes to new technology, development usually proceeds incrementally. But progress continues to be made on many fronts. Here is a look at some critical new technologies, and how the ARC Advisory Group assesses their maturity.

3D Printing of Spare Parts

The opportunity to use 3D printing – more accurately labeled “additive manufacturing” – to print spare parts is widely recognized.  In ARC’s conversations with industry insiders, we have come across many companies that have beta projects and are printing a small number of parts, but no company that is doing this at scale. There are a number of challenges associated with scaling additive manufacturing in the supply chain. However, the challenges are not insurmountable. New cloud-based solutions are very promising.

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The revolution is here

With 90 3D printers at its 26 factories, Volkswagen counts on metal 3D printing for exclusive car series & replacement parts

German car manufacturer Volkswagen is no stranger to additive manufacturing technologies, as the company has been exploring various applications for 3D printing in the automotive industry.

At its Volkswagen Autoeuropa plant in Portugal, for instance, the company reported producing as many as 1,000 parts using its fleet of Ultimaker 3D printers last year and has seen significant cost savings since implementing the technology.

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Marines test system to 3D-print spare parts in the field

A U.S. Marine Corps infantry battalion has become the first unit in the Corps to possess a 3D printer, using it to printing various pieces of equipment.

The U.S. Marines said the unit is the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment at Camp Lejuene, N.C., which has been testing how the system can be employed in various theoretical situations in the field.

“We’re at the tip of the iceberg as to what capabilities this can bring,” Capt. Justin Carrasco, the logistics officer for the battalion, said in a press release. “So right now, we’re identifying different 3D-printed parts that can support the warfighter in the expeditionary environment.”

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3D Printing of spare parts: the challenges are surmountable

The opportunity to use additive manufacturing to print spare parts is widely recognized.  In ARC’s conversations with industry insiders, we have come across many companies that have beta projects and are printing a small number of parts, but no company that is doing this at scale. There are a number of challenges associated with scaling additive manufacturing in the supply chain:

  • Old parts are often the slow-moving parts, does the company still have the design specs for these parts?
  • A big company may have tens of thousands of slow moving SKUs. Are they willing to dispose of that inventory and write it off?
  • The performance and lifespan of a printed part will be different than traditional parts. In some cases, it may be better. But the testing pro-cess may be lengthy.
  • Can companies insure that a repeatable, high quality process will be used to print parts in myriad warehouses around the world?
  • Companies do not want to share their intellectual property with third parties like LSPs. If they are working with contract manufacturers from areas where counterfeiting is common, they also need to ensure that only the specified number of parts are printed.
  • There can be cultural issues: many people just don’t like to do things in a new way; further, manufacturing executives in charge of spare part production may have to cede authority for many parts to supply chain executives.

But the challenges are not insurmountable.  Those manufacturers that are ahead of their peers are the ones that have concept centers with dedicated staffs devoted to exploiting this technology.  Manufacturers that have advanced further have targets for determining the SKUs that will have the best ROI and have set goals for saving money in this area.

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Materialise reports surges in 3D printing for end part manufacturing

The Materialise showroom at their Leuven HQ houses some remarkable 3D printed designs. Photo by Michael Petch.Materialise NV (NASDAQ:MTLS) has reported financial results for the second quarter of 2017, and business is booming.

Headquartered in Leuven, Belgium the company is one of the pioneers in the 3D printing industry having written early software to improve additive manufacturing.

Materialise now reports revenue across 3 segments – software, medical and manufacturing. All segments have shown a year-on-year increase, with manufacturing growing the fastest. For the three months ended June 2017, Materialise posted €33.42 million in total revenue, a 21% increase on the comparative figure.

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Daimler 3D prints its first truck spare parts in aluminium

The working cavity of the SLM laser printer: as the work platform is raised, the powdered aluminium/silicon material moves to the side to reveal the contours of the thermostat covers.Daimler has used 3D printing technology to produce its first metal spare part – a thermostat cover for Mercedes-Benz truck models whose series production ceased 15 years ago – and seen the part pass of all the stages of the manufacturer’s stringent quality assurance process.

3D printing can produce metal parts that are exceptionally strong and thermally resistance, making it particularly suitable for producing mechanically and thermally stressed components, as well as parts that are only required in small numbers – where conventional production might prove costly.

The technique for 3D metal printing uses selective laser melting (SLM), which involves the layer-by-layer application of powdered aluminium/silicon material (ALSi10Mg) that is then melted together using one or more laser energy sources.

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Deutsche Bahn calls on suppliers to get on board with 3D printing

This blog has previously posted about the marvellous work that is being done by Deutsche Bahn to use 3D printing in its supply chain, particularly in the management of spare parts.  Now they are issuing a clarion call to their supply base to increase this!


Deutsche Bahn (DB), a German railway company that generates yearly revenue of almost 40 billion euros, used the Additive Manufacturing Forum Berlin 2017 to encourage suppliers to adopt additive manufacturing technology, which can reduce delivery times and inventory costs for spare parts.

Don’t let its name and businesslike appearance fool you: the 2017 Additive Manufacturing Forum Berlin was for all intents and purposes a speed dating event. Bringing together a huge number of transport, aerospace, and automotive manufacturers, as well as a raft of 3D printing companies, the fair was a chance for additive manufacturing to bat its eyes at manufacturers yet to adopt 3D printing.

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Could 3D printing replace small parts manufacturing?

Lead times for small or obscure parts can be long and expensive. Sourcing a part can cause delays along the supply chain that cause enough disruption to lose a client. The ability to self-source via 3-D printing can save a company countless days and dollars, even when small manufactures are able to ship a part on the spot.

What 3-D printing provides is a turnkey solution. Through access to CAD files that take up less space than a warehouse, a seller can create a necessary part in minutes rather than wait the days or hours needed to expedite one from a supplier. It can also become its own source provider if it has the capability to print in other mediums such as metal.

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3D Printing is already starting to threaten the traditional spare parts supply chain

Making a step change in the management of spare parts is a significant benefit of 3D printing, promising to revolutionise logistics and supply chain networks.  Oliver Wyman sees this as already happening!


Freshly made 3D partsThe race is on to use 3D printing to produce small-series parts, on demand and on location, for industries from aerospace to automotive. At stake is the shape of a $400 billion market for spare parts manufacturing and logistics. And those changes are not 20, or even 10, years out — they are happening now.

Using models built through computer-aided design (CAD), 3D printing can produce virtually any solid object, even those with complex architectures, and in a range of materials, including plastic, ceramic, and metal. Currently, about half of 3D printing — also known as additive manufacturing — is used for prototyping. This saves manufacturers time and money, because they can develop new components or products on-demand, with less waste and without expensive tools and molds.

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