On demand manufacturing

The 3D printing technology behind SIENA Garden’s “eternal spare part” offering

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H. Gautzsch Firmengruppe subsidiary SIENA Garden has launched a new garden furniture repair service in which it is offering clients “eternal spare part” support. 

Using Replique 3D printing, the firm now offers to replace worn-out parts such as foot caps or joints on customers’ outdoor amenities, across their entire lifecycle. The service is expected to not only allow SIENA Garden to reduce its aftermarket overheads, but to enable it to operate more sustainably, while improving the collective experience of its clientele.

“Today, customers are demanding sustainable and repairable products,” said Peter Benthues, CDO of H. Gautzsch Firmengruppe. “This is also seen in recent efforts such as the right-to-repair regulations. Siena Garden wants to go one step further here. This is the claim of the brand: more care, at a better price.”

A SIENA Garden deck chair complete with ASA 3D printed arm handles.
A SIENA Garden deck chair complete with ASA 3D printed arm handles. Photo via Replique.

A ‘secure digital platform’

Born out of chemical company BASF’s business incubator Chemovator last year, Replique’s offering revolves around its fully-encrypted on-demand 3D printing platform. The firm’s system is packaged as an ‘end-to-end’ production solution, with which it offers to help manufacturers switch to 3D printing, by supporting them during the product design, technology selection and digital warehousing stages.

While the company doesn’t actually 3D print parts for its clients directly, it has enlisted the help of FDM, SLS, SLA and MJF-equipped providers, to fulfill their orders. To ensure this process is carried out in a secure way that protects customers’ IP, Replique says that any service bureaus involved are required to sign NDAs, while its platform fully-encrypts any data sets that pass through it. 

Marketed in tandem with its material qualification and part digitization offering, its production services have already been adopted by those operating in the automotive, transport, industrial and consumer sectors. In one such use case, home appliance manufacturer Miele adopted Replique’s technologies to decentralize its supply chain earlier this year. 

Since integrating Replique’s platform with its online shop, Miele has been able to produce food contact-safe accessories and spare parts more rapidly and cost-effectively than before, and SIENA Garden is now seeking to achieve something similar, albeit in a garden aftersales setting instead. 

3D printed coffee clip in two sizes, valuable separator, and borehole cleaner Material: Polyethylene terephthalate, Glycol modified (PETG). Photo via Replique.
Miele’s Replique-3D printed coffee accessories are now available to order via its online shop. Photo via Replique.

Ever-lasting garden furniture?

To help users maintain their outdoor furniture, SIENA Garden currently runs an Online Spare Part Shop in which it markets both moving and non-moving repair components. Many of these are built from specific polymers that feature the UV and moisture resistance needed for prolonged outdoor use, but producing such parts on-demand for specific customers has previously proven difficult. 

“Offering spare parts over a long period of time is currently hardly possible due to high minimum order quantities, storage costs and one-sided procurement strategies,” says Max Siebert, CEO of Replique. “Product life cycles are thus shorter than they could be,” adds Benthues. “This not only leads to immense costs, but also contradicts the ethical principle of sustainability that Siena Garden has set.”

To get around these sustainability roadblocks, SIENA Garden has begun storing its spare parts digitally via Replique’s ‘systematic onboarding’ process, in which technical drawings can be converted into 3D models. Once ordered via SIENA Garden’s service, such components are now therefore produced automatically via Replique’s 3D printing platform, and shipped out directly to customers. 

Although Replique admits that this revised spare part supply chain necessitates “higher production costs” for its client, it suggests the change will yield long-term economic and ecological benefits by prolonging the lifetime of outdoor products, while SIENA Garden has hailed the flexibility of its partner’s platform for making its ‘eternal spare part’ offering possible. 

“Replique was able to not only translate our 3D printing requirements, but also implement them on the spot,” concluded Benthues. “The combination of Replique’s expertise with their secure and scalable platform was a game changer for us.” 

The fourteen garden furniture parts that are currently produced via Replique's platform.
The fourteen garden furniture parts that are currently produced via Replique’s platform. Photo via Replique.

AM and the ‘right to repair’

Rolled out earlier this summer, the EU’s so-called right to repair legislation has introduced an expectation that manufacturers of white electrical goods, make spare parts available for ten years after their products ship. These changes, which could soon be adopted elsewhere in the world, may potentially create a golden opportunity for 3D printing, inventory digitization and distributed manufacturing. 

Speaking to 3D Printing Industry in March 2021, EOS’ Nicolas Dill anticipated that the changes would lead to a scenario in which users could buy the ‘right to download and produce’ a certain spare part file. Likewise, Spare Parts 3D’s Christian Darquier said at the time that the changes would mean “home appliances companies need to adopt a more systematic approach to really harness the value of AM.” 

In light of the EU’s reforms, Dr. Matthew Rimmer, an IP Professor at the Queensland University of Technology, has called for similar changes to Australians’ right to repair. Within his research paper, the academic has challenged the country’s current product maintenance restrictions, and suggested that advances in 3D printing could make it an ideal means of decentralizing spare part production. 

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Featured image shows a SIENA Garden deck chair with ASA 3D printed arm handles. Photo via Replique.