News

Spare parts into data bits – cost efficiency through on demand 3D printing

The project aims at creating opportunities for Finnish companies to lead the way in setting up an international network of digital spare parts.
Aalto University School of Engineering

Aalto University and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd launched a research project focusing on digital spare parts in collaboration with 13 companies. The project studies new operating and earnings models, current and future technological potential, and builds preconditions for a functional network.

The purpose of the project is to promote the transition from traditional production chains of spare parts to a dynamic network model that generates added value by means of digitisation. The spare parts and any relevant information would be transferred and stored in digital format. The spare parts would be manufactured using 3D printing according to need, usually close to the end user’s premises.

In the industrial sector, the business for 3Dprinted spare parts is still undeveloped, and there are no functional networks concentrating on spare parts. There are various associated challenges and development needs, with such questions as guaranteeing the operational reliability of critical parts, materials offering, issues related to data security, digitisation of big and complex parts, and creation of a functional service chain in particular.

Big production plants maintain large sparepart storages, where a vast amount of spare parts may wait for quite long periods of time to be taken into use.

- In companies like Wärtsilä, the capital tied up in materials and equipment may amount to hundreds of millions of euros. If we could release, say, even 5% of this capital by means of digitisation, the impact would be substantial, says Jarno Salonen, Business Development Manager at Wärtsilä, which is one of the companies participating in the project. 

The project aims at creating opportunities for Finnish companies to lead the way in setting up an international network of digital spare parts. 

- We expect the project to create new international business opportunities, says Tomi Kalpio, who is one of the main owners and founders of 3DTech Oy. The company has already carried out trials to manufacture 3Dprinted spare parts.

The project of approximately EUR 1.4 million is part of Tekes’ Industrial Internet programme. The two-year project launched at the beginning of 2016 is funded by Tekes and the participating research organisations and companies: 3D Online Factory Ltd, 3DTech Oy, AM Finland Oy, Hetitec Oy, Kone Corporation, Laserle Oy, Materflow Oy, Multiprint 3D Oy, Patria Aviation Oy, Raute Corporation, Rolls-Royce Oy Ab, Sacotec Components Oy and Wärtsilä Finland Oy.         

Open interactive workshop for companies

The Federation of Finnish Technology Industries functions as the co-operation partner for the project. The first joint effort will be the open interactive workshop (in Finnish) for companies to be held on 8 April, where the organisers present the content and goals of the project and the companies involved are invited to highlight their own views.

For further information, please contact:

Aalto University
Mika Salmi, project manager
+358 50 512 2746, [email protected]

VTT Ltd
Sini Metsä-Kortelainen, project manager
+358 40 5257 815, [email protected]

Aalto University
Jouni Partanen, professor, project leader responsible
+358 50 576 9804, [email protected]

VTT Ltd
Pasi Puukko, project leader responsible
+358 40 5251 684, [email protected]

Photos: 3D printed spare parts

  • Published:
  • Updated:

Read more news

Picture of Maija Keskinen
Cooperation, Studies Published:

Alum Maija Keskinen: I enjoy learning new things and trying out different roles

Our alum, Maija Keskinen, knew from the start that she wanted to study economics. "Meaningful work to me means being able to serve society and do my part to ensure that decisions made in public administration are based on the highest quality information possible," Keskinen explains.
Lara Ejtehadian, Patrick Rinke, and Ilari Lähteenmäki sitting with coffee mugs and smiling to the camera.
Awards and Recognition, Research & Art Published:

Aalto Open Science Award Winner 2023 - Aalto Materials Digitalization Platform (AMAD)

We interviewed the AMAD team, winners of the first Aalto Open Science Award.
People at the campus
Cooperation, Research & Art Published:

Aalto University to host CESAER Task Force Openness of Science and Technology

Aalto University is proud to host the CESAER Task Force Openness of Science and Technology on 16–17 April 2024.
Otaniemi seafront pictured in the summer with the Aalto logo and event title, and VTT and Open Science logos overlayed.
Campus, Cooperation, Research & Art Published:

Open Science and Research Summer Conference 2024 will be hosted by Aalto University

Aalto University is co-organising the Open Science and Research Summer Conference 2024 with the National Coordination of Open Science and Research, and VTT.