Shell to enable digital warehouse by 3D Printing of spare parts

Shell, the British-Dutch multinational Oil and Gas Company, is leveraging spare parts 3D printing to foray into digital warehouse. The company aims to focus on the revolutionary 3D printing technology to optimise its repair and replacement strategies and ultimately enable a digital warehouse approach to spare part management.

Shell believes the technology can reduce the costs, delivery time and the carbon footprint of spare parts and so it is collaborating with industry leaders to push the innovation of 3D printing for the energy sector.

Spare Parts 3D printing

Shell’s in-house 3D printing capability started in 2011 with a metal laser-printing machine to fabricate unique testing equipment for laboratory experiments at the Shell Technology Centre Amsterdam (STCA). Today, Shell has about 15 polymer, ceramic, and metal printers located at its technology centres in Amsterdam and Bangalore.

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Big Oil’s digital pivot marks the beginning of a new era for the industry

The oil and gas industry is embracing new technologies to save time and costs and, most recently, to reduce the carbon footprint of its supply chain as the energy sector is under increased pressure to reward shareholders while helping to fight climate change.  Along with artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital twins, and robotics, the world’s biggest oil and gas firms and oilfield services providers are betting on 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, to streamline operations, cut costs and save time, and reduce emissions from spare parts manufacturing. 

Over the past decade, some of the biggest oil and gas firms in the world have turned to 3D printing to procure parts and create digital warehouses to procure and manage the supply of necessary equipment. 

One such example is supermajor Shell (2.60%), which believes that additive manufacturing technology can reduce the costs, delivery time, and the carbon footprint of spare parts. Shell has ongoing projects with other industry players, including Baker Hughes (3.06%), to push the innovation of 3D printing for the energy sector, say Nick van Keulen, Supply Chain Digitalisation Manager and Angeline Goh, 3D Printing Technology Manager at Shell.  

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BASF’s Replique venture partners with Miele for on-demand 3D printed spare parts

Replique, a venture born out of chemical company BASF’s business incubator Chemovator, has partnered with German home appliance manufacturer Miele to produce and ship 3D printed accessories via its decentralized production network. 

Through the partnership, Replique’s 3D printing platform will be integrated into Miele’s online shop to enable the company to provide its customers with new 3D printed accessories and spare parts both quickly and cost-effectively.

3D printed coffee clip in two sizes, valuable separator, and borehole cleaner Material: Polyethylene terephthalate, Glycol modified (PETG). Photo via Replique.

The partners are supposedly the first to implement a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) for the 3D printing of polymer parts for food contact applications, beginning with an initial three accessories – a coffee clip, borehole cleaner, and a valuable separator for vacuum cleaner attachments. 

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Alstom slashes spare part lead times by 95% using Stratasys 3D printing technology

Alstom, a France-based rolling stock manufacturer, has adopted FDM 3D printing technology from Stratasys to streamline spare part production for the transport sector.

One of the company’s most recent projects involved producing a set of emergency spare parts for Algeria’s Sétif Tramways, and additive manufacturing was the star of the show. Leveraging Stratasys F370 3D printers, Alstom was able to drastically slash lead times and save Sétif Tramways thousands in manufacturing costs, reducing downtime in the city’s 14-mile transport network.

Algeria’s Sétif Tramways comprise 26 stops across almost 14 miles. Photo via Alstom.

“The agility that 3D printing gives us is critical for Alstom strategically as a business,” states Aurélien Fussel, Additive Manufacturing Programme Manager at Alstom. “Where our customers depend on spare parts to maintain operations, having this in-house production capability means we can bypass our traditional supply chain and respond quickly and cost-effectively with a solution to their needs.”

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Army gung-ho on 3D printing spare parts

Additive manufacturing has come to the forefront of the Army’s attention as the service looks for ways to quickly reproduce parts without needing to continuously rely on industry. 

In 2019, the service released a new policy directive that outlined its goals to expand its 3D printing processes and established an additive manufacturing center of excellence at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois. 

Maj. Gen. K. Todd Royar, commanding general of Army Aviation and Missile Command, said on the aviation side, he has been using the directive as a baseline for the command’s 3D printing efforts and then incorporating additional standards to ensure that it can meet Federal Aviation Administration regulations as well. 

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GM opens 3D printing center for parts

General Motors announced the opening of the 15,000-square-foot Additive Industrialization Center, dedicated to productionizing 3D printing technology in the automotive industry.

Manufacturing engineer Benjamin LeBlanc inspects a 3D printer at the GM Additive Industrialization Center in Warren, Michigan.

General Motors recently opened its new, 15,000-square-foot Additive Industrialization Center (AIC), dedicated to 3D printing technology in the automotive industry. The AIC is the capstone of GM’s expertise and increased investment in 3D printing over the last several years.

“The core component of GM’s transformation is becoming a more agile, innovative company, and 3D printing will play a critical role in that mission,” says Audley Brown, GM director of additive design and materials engineering. “Compared to traditional processes, 3D printing can produce parts in a matter of days versus weeks or months, at a significantly lower cost.”

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‘When you find yourself 3D printing thousands of parts per week, you gain the kind of learning typically very few of your super users have’

It’s been quite a year. 

One of struggle, one of anguish, one of a technology that may have previously failed to live up to such lofty promise, perhaps now finding its role in the manufacturing landscape.

Though there were plenty of businesses in the 3D printing industry that had significant issues to encounter – GE in its AM-related goodwill impairment charges or Stratasys and 3D Systems in their workforce reductions – the technology itself comes out of 2020 with an enhanced reputation.

Nexa3D COVID app

It was responsible for millions of parts produced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to alleviate slightly the pressure that medical professionals and procurement personnel were under, while allowing manufacturers to pivot from what they typically produced to what, in that moment, we needed them to.

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Wilhelmsen and Thyssenkrupp provide maritime 3D printing services to Yinson

After forming a collaboration to deliver maritime spare parts using 3D printingthyssenkrupp and Wilhelmsen have onboarded Yinson to their 3D Printing customer program. Services provided will include solving pain points such as long lead time, part obsolescence and poor part performance.

Thyssenkrupp and Wilhelmsen are collaborating on leveraging on thyssenkrupp’s deep expertise in AM alongside Wilhelmsen’s in-depth maritime expertise and direct ongoing experience in understanding the needs of vessel fleet managers.

Yinson

Based on current data, maritime fleets spend approximately $13 billion a year on spare parts. With 50% of these vessels being older than 15 years, the availability of parts are limited. This makes the fulfillment of orders for maritime spare parts costly and complicated, and in fact, supply chain overheads involved may oftentimes far outstrip the cost of the part itself.

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Link3D brings Digital 3D Inventory solution to PostNord

PostNord, Stockholm, Sweden, the largest logistics company in the Nordics and a subsidiary of PostNord Strålfor Group. The digital inventory provides communication and logistics solutions to optimise Additive Manufacturing for the medical market.

PostNord’s continued expansion into AM is driving the need for an integrated offering within the medical market. Key enablers delivered to PostNord by Link3D as part of the deployment include a secure platform for physicians to move seamlessly from X-ray to part order, improving delivery speed, and integration with an industry-leading e-commerce platform that provides an end-to-end customer experience, from order requesting to delivery.

The deployment with PostNord is the latest expansion into a new market, with increasing numbers of potential customers beginning to see the need for an operating system that enables them utilise Additive Manufacturing across a variety of use cases. Link3D is offering a solution to this new problem, having already deployed solutions across aerospace, medical and contract manufacturing sectors.

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3D printing solution to support 30-year digital rail maintenance

Having successfully implemented Stratasys‘ 3D printing to produce parts for the German and UK rail industries, Siemens Mobility Services has continued its investment in Stratasys technology to support the expansion of its rail maintenance operations in Russia. This includes two new industrial-grade Stratasys Fortus 450mc 3D Printers for part production. 

The decision comes in line with a recent business win for Siemens Mobility to build 13 additional high-speed Velaro trains for Russian train company, RZD, including an agreement to maintain and service the trains for the next 30 years. This is already the third Velaro order from RZD for Sapsan fleet due to excellent availability of Sapsan trains in daily operation, supplementing an existing fleet of 16 trains. For further information see the IDTechEx report on 3D Printing Materials 2019-2029: Technology and Market Analysis.

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