3D Printing Is Already Starting To Threaten The Traditional Spare Parts Supply Chain

Gilles Roucolle and Marc Boilard for Forbes:  The race is on to use 3D printing to produce small-series parts, on demand and on location, for industries from aerospace to automotive. At stake is the shape of a $400 billion market for spare parts manufacturing and logistics. And those changes are not 20, or even 10, years out — they are happening now.

Using models built through computer-aided design (CAD), 3D printing can produce virtually any solid object, even those with complex architectures, and in a range of materials, including plastic, ceramic, and metal. Currently, about half of 3D printing — also known as additive manufacturing — is used for prototyping. This saves manufacturers time and money, because they can develop new components or products on-demand, with less waste and without expensive tools and molds.  Cont'd...

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