3/29/2016 | 1 MINUTE READ

Project Will Enable On-Demand 3D Printing of Spare Parts

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A Finnish research project will seek to build a digitized network of spare parts that can be 3D printed as needed.

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In collaboration with 13 companies, Aalto University and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. have launched a research project intended to promote the transition from traditional production chains of spare parts to a digitized, dynamic network model. The project studies new operating and earnings models, current and future technological potential, and builds preconditions for a functional network. By enabling the transfer and storage of relevant information in a digital format, the project will allow spare parts to be manufactured via 3D printing according to need, usually close to an end user’s location.

According to Aalto and VTT, the business for 3D-printed spare parts in the industrial sector is still undeveloped, and there are no functional networks concentrating on spare parts. The associated challenges and development needs include questions of the operational reliability of critical parts, materials offering, issues related to data security, digitization of big and complex parts, and creation of a functional service chain in particular.

The project aims at creating opportunities for Finnish companies to lead the way in setting up an international network of digital spare parts: “We expect the project to create new international business opportunities,” says Tomi Kalpio, who is one of the main owners and founders of 3DTech Oy. The company has already carried out trials to manufacture 3D-printed spare parts.

The two-year project launched at the beginning of 2016 is funded by Tekes and is part of its Industrial Internet program. Participating research organizations and companies are: 3D Online Factory Ltd, 3DTech Oy, AM Finland Oy, Hetitec Oy, Kone Corporation, Laserle Oy, Materflow Oy, Multiprint 3D Oy, Patria Aviation Oy, Raute Corporation, Rolls-Royce Oy Ab, Sacotec Components Oy and Wärtsilä Finland Oy.              

The Federation of Finnish Technology Industries functions as the cooperation partner for the project. The first joint effort will be an open interactive workshop (in Finnish) for companies to be held April 8, 2016, where organizers will present the content and goals of the project and the companies involved are invited to highlight their own views.

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