Spare Parts Classification for 3D Printing Suitability
Abstract: Background: The 3D printing technology has from its birth in the late 1980’s evolved from an emerging technology to being described as one of this decade’s most significant developments. 3D printing has the potential to impact global logistics and has implications for supply chain management by changing the way products are being designed and manufactured. Spare parts have been appointed as a highly interesting area for 3D printing due to its market’s significance and complexity. Even though the technology has a rapid development and provides opportunities for companies, it still holds several limitations. Due to the limitations of the technology, but also spare parts diversity, not all parts are suitable for 3D printing. Purpose: The purpose of the thesis is to develop a spare parts classification for 3D printing suitability. The aim of the classification is to enhance decision making in companies by showing what types of spare parts that are suitable for the technology. In order to fulfill the purpose, a two-dimensional approach is adopted. Firstly, by investigating what characteristics that make spare parts suitable to consider for 3D printing. Secondly, by studying what 3D printing limitations that need to be taken into consideration for printing spare parts. Method: In order to fulfill the purpose of the thesis, a qualitative study is conducted. The methodology of grounded theory is chosen to be able to build new theory in a systematic way. As for the phase of data collection, the study includes ten semi-structured interviews. In analyzing the empirical data, the thesis is following the process of grounded analysis. Conclusion: The main contribution of the thesis is the spare parts classification for 3D printing suitability. The classification is developed based on the conclusions of what characteristics make spare parts suitable for 3D printing, as well as what limitations of the technology that need to be considered. The classification illustrates that spare parts with low output in terms of total logistics costs, object size, material requirements, strength requirements and surface finish are most suitable for 3D printing. The results also show that due to current limitations of 3D printing, only a small number of spare parts are suitable to print.
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