3D print for white goods spares

11 Dec 2018

Engineering capacity news posted by Andy Sandford

Spare Parts 3D and global home appliance manufacturer Whirlpool are working together on a new 3D printing project based on spare parts production.

Whirlpool is partnering with the Singapore-based company to apply leverage to its 3D printing expertise and accelerate industrialization.

Whirlpool is taking a step into the expansion of the process by scaling-up the printing its first parts. The first part, a push button made in Nylon with the MFJ technology, paves the way of a new way of thinking spare part management in aftersales.

“Spare Parts 3D gave me a pragmatic view on how to use 3D printing in our business. I know we won’t make large production batches with this technology, but there is an excellent value to solve obsolescence and shortage issues which generally fold into low volumes demands. This way 3D printing can have a direct significative impact on our customer care” Says Franco Secchi, Head of Consumer Services and Quality for ‎Whirlpool EMEA and responsible for the collaboration’s success.

Spare Parts 3D already succeeded to convince large manufacturers and industrial spare parts users that additive manufacturing is a great way to improve spare parts supply. The Singaporean start-up, launched in 2015, developed an online software called “Digipart” to enable their partner to estimate the benefits they would get from using 3D printing and to determine which part would be the most profitable. Additional features such as the digital inventory repository, and the quotation and ordering system are an on-going beta test and shall be released to all Spare Parts 3D’s customers by end of the year.

Paul Guillaumot, CEO of Spare Parts 3D, stated: “We are proud to count Whirlpool as one of our most valuable partners. Committing in 3D printing is proof of a creative mindset and leadership for such a well-known company. We are glad to inspire them trust and innovation.”

The collaboration between the two companies started back in November 2017 with a pilot project led in Singapore on 150 parts covering various typologies, materials and technologies.

Once the technical suitability has been validated in January 2018, Whirlpool empowered Spare Parts 3D to perform a catalogue analysis. More than 11 000 SKUs have been reviewed automatically one by one thanks to Digipart to tackle two key issues: obsolescence and shortages cases.

Resulting from this analysis, 7% of the SKUs were found out as profitable economically and as a result, suitable for a production by additive manufacturing.

Using three kinds of technology (HP, FDM, SLA) combined with 5 materials (ABS, ABS V0, PA12, Rubber-like resin, and PP-like resins), additive manufacturing could cover a wide range of needs in terms of spare parts for the Home Appliance industry.

The first project now launched, the next step will be to enlarge the process of digitization to a larger pool of parts. Some few models have already been produced on demand and delivered to customers. Going forward Whirlpool and Spare Parts 3D plan to intensify their collaboration to scale up the production in the coming months.