Additive manufacturing is based on incremental layer-by-layer manufacturing. most relevant AM technologies commonly use powder or wire as a feedstock. which is selectively melted by a focused heat source and consolidated in subsequent cooling to form a part.

 
  1. Material
  1. Technology
  1. Anisotropic properties
  1. Supply chain
  1. Design
  1. Flexibilities
  1. Capabilities
 
Reliable spare parts production is essential in manufacturing. AM technologies make it possible to produce spare parts on demand, offering an alternative to current methods. Using AM parts could reduce supply chain cost and improve services for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). 3D printing/additive manufacturing (AM) industrial spare parts is not sufficiently developed for            to readily access off the shelf solutions at present.  This is due to:  (1) Limited digital parts supply (2) No control over the IP that enables suppliers’ spare parts management (3) No established procedures for guaranteeing AM parts fabrication quality. 
For            invest in building AM spare parts capabilities, we would need to address: (a) How to digitise the supply chain and provide the right data, software and user interface to manage the digital parts for the industry and external suppliers. (b) Assess the current state of the spare parts industry (c) Decide who will is responsible for spare parts manufacturing and quality control: in-house teams or external suppliers.
In the foreseeable future, AM technology compliments current manufacturing processes, but doesn’t replace them. The two alternatives for AM spare parts manufacturing are: partner with a service supplier to print the parts. Or acquire the technology in-house. 
 
 
Key findings: Quality is one of the key concerns of spare parts manufactured by AM. Maximising its performance requires a detailed understanding of its manufacturing processes and material properties. Currently, it has been proven that using AM for complex small parts on-demand is more cost and time effective than conventional counterparts. Furthermore, there have been some concerns raised by manufacturers, over who controls the IP of the product if the production of parts is distributed close to the point of use? At the moment AM suitability depends on a simple assessment procedure shown as follow:
3D Printing Spare Part Selection procedure:

 Materials: Steel grades, aluminium alloys, and titanium alloys manufactured by AM technologies meet or even exceed the mechanical properties of their conventional process counterparts. There is a great variety of metallic materials available that comply with different international standards. Currently, high-performance materials are under investigation.
The Technology: The laser beam melting process yields the finest grain size and microstructures with outstanding strength, which is ideal for end-use parts. The grain size and strength characteristics are due to the very fast cooling rates and high-temperature gradients involved in AM processes.
 
Feedstock: Wire-feed and powder were compared and evaluated. The research showed that metallic powder feedstock was presented as one of the best options. Factors such as contamination, powder atomisation and levels of oxygen can affect the quality, microstructure & mechanical properties of the parts, but can be managed to the highest standards required
 
Microstructure Properties: AM parts require special consideration in the design phase due to its anisotropy configuration effects. Heat conduction is built on z-direction which defines its mechanical properties. Therefore, specific knowledge is required and further tests need to be conducted.
 
Speed: Printing speed will no longer be a barrier to the future growth of the AM industry. Current laser metal deposition (LMD) technologies reach speeds of 80cm3/hr. Based on the research, deposition rates can now achieve up to 300cm3/hr for certain materials, depending on deposit material, spot size, laser power and traverse speed.
 
Impact on manufacturing and the supply chain
 

Manufacturing Efficiency

Supply Chain Improvement

Mass Customization

Shorter manufacturing lead time

On-demand manufacturing

Reduced inventory

Decentralised manufacturing

Reduced lot size

Multi-material capability

Shorter time

Micro-manufactures

Reduced transportation cost

Ability to print complete systems or subsystems

Quick response to demand

Quality improvement

Reduced production waste

Improve sustainability

 
How can the industry  lead the AM of the spare parts in the industry?

Digitalising the supply chain: The introduction of information communication technologies and Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to revolutionise the provision of spare parts. Blockchain solutions could provide visibility and the ability to track the spare parts as they move through the value chain, which has significant implications on the cost, speed, and quality of the parts. This will make OEMs more likely to adopt this technology to tackle the uncertainty among both suppliers and customers with regard to IP
 
In-house vs external deployment: Considering the trade-off involved in the production of spare parts, in-house deployment benefits can be seen where there is a high cost of equipment failure for critical equipment and the expected utilisation of AM is categorised as general purpose. External deployment is recommended to print slow moving-parts for secondary equipment.
 
Digital Warehouse: A digital platform needs to be built to manage the digital spare parts identified by SKU codes. WesCEF will be able to download a 3D file that contains all of the data required to create a spare part. Its integration will require flexibility at different levels, change of culture and involvement of different areas of the industry related to the spare parts supply management.
 
Building skills: To employ AM successfully for on-demand production of spare parts, a wide range of internal skills will need to be developed around 3D printing know-how and flexibility will be required throughout the whole manufacturing system. Standard AM processes will ensure high-quality spare parts.
 
Collaborations: There are three programmes that could support the research, staff training, testing, and implementation on the use of 3D printing parts: (1) Woodside Innovation Centre at Monash University,  between industry counterparts.  (2)  The University of Western Australia 3D Printing Programme which provides access to research, 3D printing technologies, and mechanical test tools. And (3) LAB22 CSIRO. Partnering with these programmes will lower the capital investment risk and speed up the AM integration process. 
 
Business Engagement:  Aurora Labs Limited in Perth is an industrial technology and innovation company that specialises in the development of 3D metal printers, powders, digital parts and their associated intellectual property and control software that can be used for large-scale industrial manufacturing on a cost-effective basis. They recently signed a collaboration agreement with the University of Western Australia and Royal Perth Hospital to print medical implants.
 
AM challenges:

Stakeholders

Barriers

External Supplier

3D models no available

Procurement / Legal

IP Management, service contracts

Process Engineer

Uncertified AM process

Process Engineer / Technical

Quality of the parts

Management

Printing technology & Feedstock

WMS / Technical

Wrong material selection

Maintenance Department

Anisotropy knowledge  considerations

Warehouse Department

Time of printing spare part

 
Recommendations: We propose a three-step process in order to validate and adopt the AM technology into spare parts management. (1)Formulation & internal assessment (2)Implementation distributed deployment (3)Build a corporate strategy on AM

1st Phase

Formulation

2nd Phase

Implementation

3rd Phase

Corporate Strategy

·   3d printing training workshops

·   A pilot test with slow-moving non-critical parts

·   Identify potential 3D printing parts in the CMMS & WMS

·   Initiate  Digital warehouse platform

·   Set design and 3d printing partnerships

Victoria: LAB22 CSIRO

Perth: SFDesign, Aurora Labs, Woodisde research

·  Acquiring 3D printingTruPrint3000

·  WMS & CMMS monitoring

·  Application of AM on other business areas

·  Launch eParts program

·  Blockchain enables supply chain

·  Backward, horizontal and forward integration

·  Resources allocation

·  Technology diversification

·  Set performance targets

 

Next Steps:
1.     In order to test the solution, it’s suggested to start implementing it with slow moving parts. Set partnerships with external providers to build the skills and identify bottlenecks in the process.
2.     Build an AM case study to measure its impact as a learning resource.
3.     Conduct on-site analysis, to identify the current state of the company and capabilities regarding AM.
4.     Conduct an internal financial analysis of the economical feasibility of AM.
5.     Conduct a Suppliers /  IP assessment  
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