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Spare Parts: Warehouses Shrink as 3D Printers Move In-House

By Dick Weisinger

The spare parts market is experiencing near total disruption as 3D printing is completely reshaping how the market works. Spare parts manufacturing and logistics make up a $400 billion market and are used by all kinds of industries, like aerospace and automotive.

Increasingly 3D printing is making it possible to create parts on-demand, eliminating or reducing warehouse costs, and making it possible to print parts locally, close to where parts needed. Larger companies are taking spare part production in-house, eliminating the need to deal with third-party spare parts distributors.

A survey by Strategy& found a large gap in how spare parts distributors are able to meet the demands of their customers, and 50 percent of customers say that they have resorted to using 3D printing to print their own parts. The report found that companies that are investing in printing of spare parts are positioning themselves for competitive advantage.

The Strategy& report found that “3D printing will not have the same impact on all industries, however. The lifetime of the equipment for which spare parts are needed, the volume of spare parts to be printed, and the level of customization of the spare parts play a decisive factor in how rapidly and far 3D printing will penetrate any industry. Those likely to see the highest impact include the machine tool, rolling stock, medical equipment, and aerospace and defense industries.”


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