3D printing helps inventory control
Where inventory control is critical, 3D printing is the way to go. Manufacturing on demand can happen with additive manufacturing. To do this is a coordinated effort. Design, engineering, sales, marketing and service functions need to work together.
There are 2 types of inventory control that are possible with additive manufacturing:
- Spare parts: Many spare parts have long lead times. They are also subject to cost fluctuations. Stocking up spares for critical machinery is quite common. This can run into huge costs to the company in the long run.
- Post Sales spares: Stocking of spares to support sales is an important function. This is to maintain tool uptime and service quality. Again, the cost of maintaining such spares can be high. Especially if external vendors supply such parts. These are also affected by supplier lead times and cost fluctuations.
Additive manufacturing resolves this predicament. The company can resort to just-in-time manufacturing. This will help in critical in-house spares as well as for Post Sales maintenance.
Manufacturing on demand is a new paradigm adopted by several large companies. Since 3D printing has little labour content, the cost of labour is not critical. This is an ideal solution, especially for high-cost centers.
Mercedes-Benz is following this method for their truck division. Up to 30 different plastic truck spare parts get printed on demand. This helps their customer service centers to have low inventory.