3D printing provides hard-to-get parts to replace worn parts

Remanufacturing is beginning to benefit from 3D printing. The remanufacturing process (in which products are disassembled and the parts repaired or replaced and then reassembled) can be costly, time consuming and labour intensive. For older products it can prove difficult to get the parts needed to replace those that are worn or broken. This is where 3D printing could help.

Directed energy deposition (DED) is ideal technology

According to Dr Jason Jones, co-founder and chief executive of Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies, "Directed energy deposition (DED) could help create intricate parts in a fraction of the time, or be used to make custom parts that are no longer in production elsewhere."

"The remanufacturing of mechanical parts that wear out as they rotate are ideal candidates for 3D-printed repair," said Dr Jones. "Often they are manually repaired by welding and grinding. However, 3D printing offers a new level of automation for these activities."

Examples include bearing surfaces on shafts, impellers for turbochargers, and blades, vanes and blisks for various types of turbines.

"But DED is not ideal for highly detailed internal complexity that is commonplace in some of the other types of 3D printing, such as powder bed fusion," warns Dr Jones. "There is also a limit to how hot you can get a part before it begins to deform. For that reason, DED is most successful right now where only a small portion of the part is hot at any given time."

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