3D Print Your Replacement Parts
Imagine a world where you can get whatever item you need just by hitting a button on a printer. You don't have to go shopping to find what you want. You don't have to order what you want online then wait for delivery.
Imagine not having to wait for new parts before you can get back to work. That's the potential that 3D printing brings to the table.
What is Three-Dimensional Printing (3D Printing)?
3D printing is exactly what it says it is. It is technology that produces a three-dimensional object from a printer on demand. Current technology allows a 3D printer to complete its print job in anywhere from 20 minutes to two-hours or more.
On-site 3D printing has not replaced warehouses of products and replacement parts. Not yet, anyway. But there are those who theorize this could be the reality of the near future, meaning just a few years down the line. 3D printing is already in use on an industrial level in some areas.
The 402nd Commodities Maintenance Group at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, is using 3D printers to create precise models of needed parts for military aircraft. This gives them confidence that the parts machined on their shop floor will be precise and there will be little to no waste of expensive material during production.
To cast a typical model from aluminum may traditionally cost $10,000 to $15,000. Printing such a model from a 3D printer costs approximately $20.
Keep On Trucking
The Daimler Chrysler Group (Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz) has joined with Audi and BMW to use additive 3D manufacturing to produce spare parts for its wide range of trucks. It began in September 2016 to produce plastic items, such as spring caps, air duct clamps and cable ducts.
The inevitable conclusion to these trials will be the capability to produce metal and plastic replacement parts anywhere in the world where a 3D printer is available.
In 2014, Aerojet Rocketdyne reported using large laser sintering machines in 3D manufacturing to design and develop components of rocket engines for NASA. Components would be 3D printed using additive materials such as aluminum, copper and nickel.
Aerojet later released a report stating it tested a complete engine capable of producing 5,000 pounds of thrust.
NASA also reported working in conjunction with Aerojet Rocketdyne to hot-fire test a liquid oxygen/gaseous hydrogen rocket injector assembly constructed using 3D printing. In April 2017, Aerojet Rocketdyne successfully hot-fire tested a full-scale thrust chamber assembly for the RL10 rocket engine. A copper alloy additive and 3D printing created this chamber assembly.
From Outer Space to Oil Fields
Thingiverse, a popular 3D printing design website, has over 2,700 printing plans for various replacement parts and popular items available for download and use with home 3D printers. A plethora of household items can be easily printed.
3D printers are now used to create replacement parts for antique cars and other machinery. Jay Leno has used 3D printing to replace custom parts for his 1907 White Steamer. Once the 3D printer creates a model, it's used to form a plastic mold. A machinist can then use the mold to create the needed replacement part.
It doesn't take much imagination to extrapolate the use of this technology to offshore oil and gas rigs. It doesn't take a lot of contemplation to envision the use of this technology to create replacement parts for any oil or gas production site. Such a facility would normally shut down, sitting idle and wasting money with each tick of the clock, while awaiting arrival of a replacement part from a warehouse.
With 3D printing, you could avoid such a shutdown.