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How does 3D printing support Industry 4.0 maintenance departments?

The fourth industrial revolution for maintenance departments is mainly associated with robotization. This brings benefits like lowering costs and risks while making things faster, which helps achieve important goals. Although 3D printing isn’t talked about as much, it can also provide these same advantages, as many projects have demonstrated.

As a company specializing in 3D printing, in this article, we will talk about the challenges of maintenance departments and how our service can help overcome them.

Goals of maintenance departments and how 3D printing can help achieve them

In most cases, the goals of maintenance departments are quite similar, especially in the face of market changes in recent years, such as price increases, inflation, and even the increased need for security in the event of random events and sudden crises. Companies are becoming more and more aware of the challenges and risks that may be associated with, for example, specific suppliers, as perfectly demonstrated by the blocking of the Suez Canal. So let’s get down to specifics.

Cost reduction

The issue of price, especially in the last year, is the most frequently discussed topic by our clients, and this is completely understandable. Huge increases in the prices of various raw materials and fuels have caused maintenance departments to look for new methods to reduce costs. In such situations, they often come to us.

Typically, inquiries concern elements such as robot grippers, format parts, as well as any other elements that require frequent replacement.

In the case of this type of parts, it is usually possible to achieve approximately 50%, and sometimes even up to 70%, lower production costs by using our 3D printing service. HP Multi Jet Fusion

Such a large difference in price is usually due to two issues. In some cases, the biggest cause is technology. If the company previously used machining technology (e.g. milling or CNC) or injection, modern HP MJF printing is a much more advanced, economical, and effective solution. Printers use less material, and the process itself is faster, more automated, and cheaper.

The second reason often lies with the producers of production equipment who supply machines and then spare parts for them. For machine manufacturers, selling spare parts is not a priority, so they offer them at very high margins, so the final price far exceeds the cost of production.

Shortening delivery times

The delivery of spare parts, both in the case of orders from the manufacturer and from third parties, is often associated with long queues and delivery times of up to several weeks. To secure company processes, maintenance departments are often forced to create large orders and store parts. This has two problems:

  1. Large orders result in funds being frozen.
  2. The need to store parts is an additional cost and risk of loss.

In the case of our 3D printing service, delivery time can be reduced from several weeks to 2 days. We also offer the so-called virtual warehouse and enable customers to plan deliveries well in advance, which in the case of orders several months in advance, is associated with an additional discount.

Modifications to ordered parts

When ordering parts from machine manufacturers or in the case of machining or injection technology, design modifications are significantly difficult, very expensive, and sometimes even impossible.

3D printing gives you complete freedom in this case. As part of our service, we can perform a full scan of each part and make any necessary design changes between batches. Thanks to this, further improvements can be introduced on an ongoing basis, which will further reduce costs – e.g. by reducing the amount of material needed or introducing threads, inserts and additional elements that are not possible in other technologies.

What other benefits does the Cubic Inch 3D printing service bring to maintenance departments?

In addition to the three main benefits, there are several less obvious, but equally important from the point of view of the goals of maintenance departments:

Speeding up processes at every stage

As 3D printing experts, we support the client at every stage of implementing 3D printing into the company. We realize that introducing new technology into a company is always a challenge, but thanks to our experience, we know how to ensure that the process runs smoothly. Both at the beginning and during cooperation, we help find optimal solutions to help reduce costs and improve the client’s processes.

We describe the process of implementing 3D printing step by step here

Support in a critical situation

Even in the best functioning machinery, breakdowns sometimes occur. In exceptional situations, we are able to produce and deliver parts in a shortened time to help the customer minimize any negative effects as much as possible.

Can 3D printing be used in your maintenance department?

3D-printed spare parts are used in enterprises from almost every industry – from FMCG through automotive to aviation. Regardless of the area, modern 3D printing is increasingly turning out to be an important building block in the transformation of companies to Industry 4.0.

If you think there is potential to use 3D printing in your company, contact us. We will help you find the answer and effectively introduce this technology into your company.

Maciek Stefańczyk

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