The world of asset management developing. Several changes are taking place on the technical front. Whereas mechanics used to sit with their ear on a screwdriver to find a broken bearing, today sound cameras, thermal cameras and advanced vibration meters can be used. But there are more technology-driven trends, such as the adoption of 3D printing. You can read more about them in this blog.

What is 3D printing?

Actually, the first question we should ask is whether 3D printing is a trend. Did you know that the first 3D printer was developed back in the 1980s? However, due to improved techniques, 3D printing is undergoing a rapid rise, which is why we can safely call it a trend.

3D printing is and production technique in which a digital file is converted into a tangible object that is built up layer by layer by a three-dimensional printer. The materials used are diverse; (recycled) plastics, metals and wood are among the possibilities (and chocolate...!).

The website of Ultimaker, a Dutch company specializing in 3D printing, has a clear explanation:

Advantages of 3D printing

The benefits of 3D printing are as follows:

  • Innovate through cheap and fast prototyping: 3D printing enables companies to create prototypes quickly and inexpensively so that new ideas can be developed quickly.
  • Customization: 3D printing is ideally suited for producing low quantity products that need to meet individual requirements, such as customized tools or parts of a complex machine. In the process, it is also possible to create complex geometric shapes.
  • Sustainable production: 3D printing results in little or no material waste; this is because the production process is additive rather than subtractive.
  • Less environmental impact: because parts can be made on site, there is no need to pack and transport the product.
  • On site: products can be made in a variety of (remote) locations, such as a ship or a disaster area.

The benefit to asset management?

There are several examples of how 3D printing can contribute to asset management. For example, 3D printing makes it possible to make your own spare part on site. The video shows how 3D printing can be used to repair a broken sink plug.


Customized tools in the workshop

Custom tools can also be printed. The Ford plant in Cologne, Germany, has its own 3D printer where custom molds, tools and clamps are produced. These aim to speed up the production of (prototype) cars and improve worker ergonomics.


Unfortunately, there are also some disadvantages to the increasing use of 3D printing. For example, a 3D printer can also be used for crime: you can use it to print weapons or copy house keys. 3D printing also increases the risk of infringement of intellectual property rights.

Want to know more about this topic, contact this asset management professional.
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