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Methods and Tools for Product Design

Relatori: Prof. Giorgio Colombo, Prof. Mario Guagliano

Tutor: Prof.ssa Bianca Maria Colosimo

Università di Provenienza: Politecnico di Milano - Ingegneria Meccanica

Titolo della Tesi: Additive Manufacturing for Spare Parts Production

Additive Manufacturing for Spare Parts Production


Spare parts are components aim at replacing a broken or worn-out component. Oftentimes, the item being replaced is part of a system whose functionality, performances and appearance should be kept unchanged. Depending on the characteristics of their demand pattern, companies try to determine the optimal number of stocked units and the best logistics to ensure a high customer satisfaction while keeping the cost of this service as low as possible. However, due to the peculiar characteristics of the spare parts demand pattern, achieving these objectives is not always easy.


In this scenario, two new actors, operating besides the traditional spare part supply chain, have included. The shape of the new service will be a digital platform exposing sub-services in order to successful printing the spare part, also by non-expert users (Fig.1 - New spare parts supply chain scenario).
The four steps are the 3D digitalization, the re-design for additive manufacturing, the manufacturing and the delivery of the part (Fig.2 - Digital platform pipeline).


In order to test the feasibility of the pipeline and highlight the limitation of the proposed approach, four case studies have been carried out. A car door handle, a fairing for a vintage motorbike, the windows switch of a car (Fig.3 - From the original part to 3D printed spare: window switch for cars) and the bracket of the oating disk brake caliper.


Expected benefits on spare part management can be seen from different perspectives. From the customer side, (cost) affordable parts will be available regardless of the lifecycle of the original good, extending the life of the product under consideration. From the company side, inventory cost will be (partially) avoided; no more need to forecast unpredictable demand patterns and increased customer satisfaction with lower costs. Furthermore, this study provides useful insights for future work to understand at which point of the product lifecycle the AM should replace the original manufacturing methods.