3D printing helps post sales service
3D printing is a great help to post sales service. Post sales service is one area where there is a need for stocking of a huge number of spare parts. This is especially true for mature products. If all the service centres across the globe can get the original design for specific parts that can be 3D printed, they can print the part on demand. This reduces several uncertainties.
Advantages of 3D printing spare parts
- Lead time for parts: There is no more lead time for parts. The parts can be printed instantly and the printing time is shorter by an order of magnitude, compared to the lead time of out of stock parts.
- Supplier logistics: Where parts are currently outsourced, the vagaries of supplier outages could affect the availability of parts. With 3D printing, this concern is no longer there.
- Storage area: Since the parts are printed on demand, there is no need for separate storage area or bins for the parts.
- Cost of stocking parts: Spare parts are low productivity investments. Parts on demand will help to improve the productivity of the funds used for stocking.
- Parts will work right the first time: There is less possibility of malfunctioning parts since the part is printed as per original design.
- No more counterfeits: The biggest bane of spare parts is cheap knockoffs. They do not fit correctly, work badly and have poor lifetimes. With 3D printed parts, the cost benefit can be passed on to the customer. This takes away the incentive for the customer to buy knock offs. A genuine factory printed part will provide quality performance.
- Spares for multiple models of products: Spare parts for multiple models can be printed without having the need for complicated physical storage requirements.
General conditions for success in 3D printing of spare parts
- All service centers should uniformly use the same type of printer. This can help to standardize the parameters of the print menu. Since original designs are used, all service centers will be able to provide uniform quality across the board.
- Sufficient safeguards are needed for protecting original designs. Original designs should not be available in local storage. They should be placed in a central server with access rights set for printer operators.
- Print routines. Sufficient training should be provided to the service center personnel to make sure that every center follows the same routine for printing of parts.
- Not all parts can be 3D printed. 3D printing is still not advanced enough to be able to print every part needed. Some of the parts may still need to be sourced and stocked in a conventional manner. The service personnel should be fully up to date on which parts are available on demand.
- Customer expectations need to be set correctly. When customers get used to parts on demand, they will expect every part to be available on demand. Some parts will not be, as said earlier. A customer education campaign should be held periodically so that new customers are also up to date on their understanding of the system.