3D printing helps factory maintenance
3D printing helps factory maintenance. Factory maintenance is necessary on a periodic basis to achieve the following objectives:
- To ensure the operator is aware of the state of readiness of the equipment.
- To reduce delays due to breakdowns, etc.
- To change spare parts due to wear and tear.
Factory maintenance includes inspection, cleaning, lubrication, servicing, setup, trial runs, recalibration, and test production. This maintains the operational readiness of the assembly line. It also prevents unexpected breakdowns and production stoppages.
As a part of maintenance, spare parts that are on the edge of performance due to wear and tear also need to be replaced. Most spare parts have a specified lifetime. The reason for such lifetime is that they need replacement before the end of the lifetime. This ensures that the production line works without breakdowns.
Periodic replacement of spare parts means stocking of such spare parts in the factory. The replacement cost can be high or low depending on the spare part that needs replacement. Same is the case with the lead time of the part. Some parts have long lead times. So it becomes necessary to stock many units of such parts. This ensures the uninterrupted running of the production line.
One of the innovative ways of reducing the inventory of spare parts is to 3D print such parts. 3D printing these parts depends on the complexity of such parts. The 3D design team should look at the parts from the following criteria:
- Design complexity – how difficult or easy it is to design such parts.
- Design improvements – is it possible to improve the design. Quality and functional specifications need review. Better design improves the performance of the part.
- Lead time of the part – how long does it take for the part to reach the factory from the date of placing the order.
- The part’s cost – is the part itself expensive or low cost.
- Transport costs – how much does it cost to transport the part from vendor location to the factory
- The part’s lifetime – what is the specification for how long the part can work.
The design team could use these criteria to develop a list of production parts that can be 3D printed. This will ensure that the production line has the spare part available on demand. Printing time and material cost are the only factors in this case.
Thus, 3D printing helps factory maintenance. Printing spare parts on demand helps to reduce inventory.