The Bundeswehr, which is repeatedly criticized for its poor state of equipment, is now providing spare parts on site as a test Frigate Saxony here. In a test lasting several days on the North Sea, it is to be checked whether machine and equipment parts produced by FDM printing can also be produced in sufficient quality under the special conditions of a warship.
Manufacturing parts using 3D printing, which is already routine in the automotive and railway industries as well as in aerospace (e.g. at Airbus), is much more difficult on ships because of the conditions prevailing there: the salt content of the air and the ship movements as well Vibrations from the drive often have a disruptive effect. On the other hand, using the ships, which are very powerful with more than 53,000 HP, is extremely expensive for the German Armed Forces. Aborting a mission and prematurely returning to the supply of spare parts due to a lack of spare parts would drastically increase this.
The U.S. Navy recently installed its first 3D printer aboard one of its vessels in a program designed to test the capabilities of the technology and its potential contribution to enhancing maintenance aboard active duty vessels. The Navy joins with the commercial shipping industry which has also been looking at the capabilities of 3D printing and tested the first parts for ships made with the technology.
The 3D printing system was recently placed aboard the USS Essex, a Wasp-class Landing Helicopter Dock currently based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Commissioned in 1992, the amphibious assault ship is testing the technology while it is currently participating in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 training exercise.
“Having this printer aboard will essentially accelerate, enhance, and increase our warfighting readiness,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nicolas Batista, the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD) officer aboard the Essex. “The capabilities of the 3D printer will enable Essex to become more self-sufficient.”
Alstom, a France-based rolling stock manufacturer, has begun using Replique’s on-demand 3D printing services for its industrial series production applications.
The firm has chosen to digitize a portion of its supply chain, citing manufacturing flexibility, shorter lead times, and lower costs as primary factors for the decision. With help from Replique, Alstom can produce small batches of metal components for its trains in a decentralized manner, enabling the firm to better address the local needs of clients worldwide.
Leveraging the recent partnership, Alstom has already received and installed its first set of visible 3D printed train parts: door stoppers made of stainless steel.
Anglo American has launched a 3D printing project in South Africa focused on using the technology to manufacture spare parts for mining and processing equipment locally.
The company and its partners on the project, South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and US-based technology company, Ivaldi Group, are initially exploring the creation of a “digitally distributed supply chain”.
This involves a digitalisation of the designs of parts such as impellers for pumps, shaft sleeves, gasket bonnet valves, and mining rock drill bits, with a view towards locally producing and testing these parts at Anglo American’s operations in South Africa using 3D printers.
Anglo said the project would have environmental and community outreach benefits.
“The ability to send files – not physical spare parts – will reduce our carbon footprint, delivery lead times and logistics costs,” said Matthew Chadwick, head of socio-economic development and partnerships.
The US Air Force (USAF) has invested in a 3D printer capable of producing spare parts for its Strategic Automated Command Control System (SACCS).
When a supplier stopped manufacturing a red fault indicator lens cap to cover the lights on the SACCS system, the USAF purchased a 3D printer to manufacture its own replacement. By leveraging the technology to produce the first cap, the USAF recovered the cost of the printer and scanner and saved more than $4,000.
“This strategy is saving the Department of Defense thousands of dollars each time the part fails,” said Col. Brian Golden, National Airborne Operations Center and 595th Command and Control Group Commander.
3D printing service provider 3D Metalforge has successfully tested three different 3D printed parts on board ConocoPhillips Polar Tankers’ Endeavour oil tanker.
As part of a pioneering project, 3D Metalforge worked with ConocoPhillips, engineering services provider Sembcorp Marine and classification society American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) to fabricate, test, and install 3D printed parts on-board the Endeavor oil tanker, which were in operation for six months.
The parts have now been retrieved and inspected by the Endeavour crew and ABS, and have been validated to be in good working condition.
“We are delighted with the performance of the parts and the successful completion of the project,” said Patrick Ryan, ABS Senior Vice President, Global Engineering and Technology. “It’s an important step forward for a technology that certainly has a significant role to play in the future of the marine industry.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”