3D printing obsolete part

3D printing obsolete parts

Supporting obsolete models is not always a great business idea. Such an effort can create hairy situations. Especially so, if  the company has a huge portfolio of products. So, 3D printing obsolete parts may sound counter-intuitive.

Strategic value:

But, there are specific marketing reasons for the strategic value of such an initiative. A few examples below:

  • Huge after markets: After markets for older products can be huge. The large variety and low volumes of spares will make such a market not attractive. This is true for a traditional manufacturing model. 3D printing is not affected by such diversity. Since the parts are only printed upon demand, it is now possible to address such markets. This will increase revenue without increasing risk.
  • Increase brand value: A company that supports older products can increase its brand value. If there is clear market segmentation, this is possible. Automotive markets sell older models in emerging markets. 3D printing of spares for such older models makes sense in such cases.
  • High-value customers: Large customers usually have a mix of both new and old models. 3D printing of obsolete model spare parts can help in supporting such customers. This can also help to increase brand loyalty. Large customers are less likely to look at alternatives when they get great support.

Why does 3D printing make such an idea possible?

  • Print-on-demand: 3D printing enables printing a product only when it is in demand. So inventory does not get stockpiled. This reduces the risk of investment in inventory.
  • Genuine spares assurance: Original design files are used to print the parts. It is, therefore, possible to assure customers of the genuineness of such spares.
  • Distributed support: Several service centers across the territory can print out spares for obsolete parts. This will assure customers of local support.