“3D printing will be a game-changer for the MRO industry worldwide.”
Pratt & Whitney is set to introduce a 3D printed aero-engine component into its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations by mid-2020 after a successful collaboration with ST Engineering.
The two companies came together to leverage 3D printing technology to facilitate faster and more flexible repair solutions, with contributions also coming from Pratt & Whitney’s repair specialist Component Aerospace Singapore.
Component Aerospace Singapore provides engine part repair for combustion chambers, fuel systems and manifolds; ST Engineering boasts ‘production-level 3D capabilities’ and experience applying 3D printing in land transport systems; and Pratt & Whitney is a specialist in design and engineering.
Digitalisation technologies will transform maritime industries on a global scale over this decade in positive and negative ways
DNV GL suggests a surge in 3D printing adoption and technology development could reduce demand for seaborne trade in its Technology Outlook 2030.
In a future supply chain, files could be sent via printing platforms instead of spare parts for printing locally. This could be potentially disruptive for supply chain participants, such as shipping companies and tax authorities.
Upsides could include shortened lead times, lifecycle and working capital cost reductions and a lower carbon footprint due to less transportation.
DNV GL forecasts that perhaps up to 85% of spare part suppliers may have incorporated 3D printing by 2030, leading to a 10% reduction in seaborne trade of semi-manufactured parts in 2040.
MERCHANT ships are massive — often spanning a few hundred feet — and have thousands of moving parts.
Given the progress made by cross-border trade and commerce post-globalization, and the recent rise of e-commerce, more than 50,000 ships undertake nearly half-a-million voyages every year.
To avoid catastrophes while at sea, merchant ships need to be serviced often. One of the major costs that merchant ship owners have to account for when it comes to maintenance is the inventory cost of spare parts given the number of spares that must be carried at any given time.
The other challenge to effective maintenance is that ships travel from one port to another during its voyage. If something needs to be repaired when it is not at its home, spares must be sent to the port where it is docked.
German multinational engineering group Thyssenkrupp has obtained certification for its supply of metal 3D printed products. The company’s Approval of Manufacturer certificate is the first ever to be awarded by leading quality assurance and risk management firm DNV GL. With the accreditation, the recently opened Thyssenkrupp TechCenter Additive Manufacturing is now approved for application in maritime and other industrial sectors.
“Producing components that have the same level of quality as conventionally manufactured parts and fulfil class requirements is key,” comments Geir Dugstad, Director of Ship Classification & Technical Director of DNV GL – Maritime, “At DNV GL, we are very pleased to certify that the Thyssenkrupp TechCenter Additive Manufacturing has demonstrated its ability to reliably produce metallic materials using additive manufacturing,”
Access to and use of additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, has increased in recent years due to the expiring of patents on techniques and technologies, says Hugues Greder, Lead Petroleum Engineer at Total.
Computing power is much more powerful and there’s also been an increase in the power of the lasers used in the AM process. While a large proportion of AM today is still for prototyping and tooling, about a third is for end uses, i.e. parts, he told the Underwater Technology Conference (UTC) in Bergen, Norway, earlier this year. And more is likely to come.
Total is keen to talk about AM after some recent success stories, including solving a problem during deepwater subsea pipeline commissioning that would have otherwise cost more than €10 million ($11.2 million) to rectify. The problem was found during the Egina field commissioning in 2018.
3 D Printing is in its infancy in terms of providing parts for the military.
A challenge for the military is of course the need for parts reliability and ruggedness at very high standards.
This is why the term “military grade” was invented.
But as 3D printing becomes part of the sustainment enterprise, there are very significant impacts to be anticipated.
“Just in time” gets a whole new meaning when one can build parts locally.
This means as well that distribute operations can be facilitated more effectively.
And there is a significant potential reduction on the supply fleet, whether it be by land, sea or air.
Additive manufacturing is no longer just for prototypes. Its increasing popularity and technical capabilities have pushed it into position to change the way manufacturers manage their spare parts inventory.
No matter how technologies change, or what new innovations break into the mainstream, the basic goals of manufacturing remain the same: Reduce unplanned downtime, reduce costs, eliminate unnecessary waste, etc. How fortunate it is that 3D printing (a.k.a. additive manufacturing) is one of those cool, innovative technologies that is finding itself a very nice spot in the realm of day-to-day cost and time savings. Not only can it be used to produce interesting and previously impossible designs, it has also become a useful way to change spare parts management.
When a system goes down, making the repairs needed to get it back up and running can be time-consuming. Even more so if the part that needs replacing is no longer readily available. With the right program in place, additive manufacturing can build that part on demand—whether through reverse engineering, digital files from the component supplier, or perhaps through the supplier itself.
In recent years, advances in the printing technology, in the materials that can be used, and the software control of the end-to-end workflow have fundamentally changed the way parts can be made with additive manufacturing, says John Nanry, co-founder and chief product officer at Fast Radius, which provides 3D printing services.
EIT Digital, a digital innovation, education community and accelerator of the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), has supported the creation of a 3D printing database. Developed to help manufacturers identify potential time and cost savings, the directory aims to encourage more businesses to switch to 3D printing instead of conventional methods.
Aalto University Finland created the database, which will be rolled out as a plugin for 3D data expert software from industrial partner DeskArtes, also based in Finland. Leading manufacturing company and 3D software developer Siemens created knowledge graphs for the system, ensuring logical links between all collected data.
The Big Data behind 3D printing
When developing under Industry 4.0, conventional manufacturing businesses are challenged with rethinking the way things are done. For 3D printing’s part in this, many stakeholders are rising to the aid of these businesses at a peak point of transition.
SmarTech Analysis just released a new report on automotive additive manufacturing. This new edition follows the report published compiled last year, however, this is not just a new and updated edition. It is an entirely new report, which, for the first time, moves entirely away from AM for prototypes to focus exclusively on automotive AM end-use parts production, which is now fully within reach and is going to enable additive manufacturing to finally scale up.
The term “end-use parts” is used in the report to indicate both final automotive parts and tools (and tools include molds, dies, jigs and fixtures as well as custom assembly tools) used in the automotive production process.
The depth of automotive AM end-use parts
In order to provide new and more detailed information in its forecasts, the report leverages data from SmarTech’s unique and industry-leading database and dissects into more segments. These include two key areas: one is geographic, with country-specific forecasts. The other is relative to the supply chain, trying to answer the question that most automakers are asking themselves: where is the money coming from (that will drive AM adoption in the automotive industry)?
German railway company Deutsche Bahn is integrating metal additive manufacturing 3DMP technology from GEFERTEC to improve the availability of hard-to-procure spare parts.
The 3DMP process was implemented for the first time as part of this pilot project. According to Dr. Tina Schlingmann, a Senior Consultant of complete railway systems technology at Deutsche Bahn, availability is a big issue for the company. 3DPM is being used to service vehicles for older locomotives, including now obsolete parts.