One of the most potentially disruptive applications of 3D printing is the ability to 3D print replacement parts on demand, reducing the need for stock part supplies and the shipping of those supplies. As an increasing number of manufacturers make the blueprints for their goods digital, this sector will see everyone from consumers to businesses able to 3D print obscure bolts and jigs for everything from coffeemakers to even 3D printers themselves. A new partnership between Advanced Technology Services, Inc. (ATS) and 3Discovered hopes to bring that future even closer to the present by offering 3D printed replacement parts for factory equipment to ATS’s own MRO (Maintenance Repair & Operations) customers.
Illinois-based ATS works under the motto “We Make Businesses Run Better”, delivering IT management and maintenance repair to such large companies as Siemens, Caterpillar, and Georgia-Pacific. As a platform that connects 3D printing services to those that need them, 3Discovered, is ideally suited to work with ATS to facilitate the 3D printing of replacements for rare, obsolete, or hard-to-find parts. Through its Industrial Parts Services division, ATS customers will be able to obtain 3D printed parts via 3Discovered’s network of 3D Printing Partners, particularly useful for aged equipment and legacy factories.
Mike Waltrip, Vice President of ATS Industrial Parts Services, said of the deal, “3D printed parts are quickly becoming a highly reliable alternative to traditional replacement parts. ATS is leading the MRO industry with this new capability. 3D printing offers multiple advantages over traditional manufacturing methods. By using 3Discovered’s exchange platform we will be able to provide a wider spectrum of solutions for our customers.”
Peer Munck, Chief Executive Officer of 3Discovered, added, “3Discovered is honored to partner with ATS, a true innovator in MRO services. This is a historic milestone in what we believe to be a steady proliferation of 3D printing as the technology of choice for supplying critically-needed parts and products. 3Discovered’s platform was specifically developed to help companies seamlessly and securely incorporate this new technology in their supply chains, and we look forward to working with ATS to build on this opportunity.”
In a press release, the partners argued that 3D printed replacements can perform just as well as, if not better than, their originals, specifically in cases where plastic parts are enhanced with metals for harsh applications. This, combined with the fact that 3D scanning can be used to reverse engineer spare parts means that, in some cases, 3D printing may be the only alternative for equipment that is no longer manufactured. Though this deal represents a coming shift in spare part replacement for industry, the emergence of a more accessible database of 3D printed replacement parts for consumers is just around the corner.