Busses and Tractors to Receive 3D-Printed Spare Parts

CHN Industrial has begun 3D printing replacement parts for its specialty equipment.

One application primed for disruption by 3D printing technology is the production of spare parts. After all, why house a warehouse full of odd components for just the right moment when you or a customer will need one? 

This is especially true for large, unique systems and equipment, where mass production of individual specialty pieces is that much rarer. London and Amsterdam-based CNH Industrial has picked up on this insight and has begun fabricating spare parts for its industrial equipment.

A subsidiary of the Agnelli family-owned Exor investment company, CNH is one of the world’s largest capital goods businesses, making a wide variety of equipment for a range of industries, including: agriculture, construction, industry, marine and civil society. It has 63,000 employees spanning 66 facilities around the globe and rakes in $27 billion with its brands that include CASE construction equipment, Iveco bus and New Holland agricultural machinery. 

(Image courtesy of New Holland.)

(Image courtesy of New Holland.)

The company has 3D printed four different spare parts to be used on its buses and agricultural equipment. These parts have been printed in plastic, but CNH plans to continue testing the possibility of 3D printing metal components for use in the near future. The ultimate goal for the business is to additively manufacture “a full range of parts and promptly respond to all types of needs at every stage of the product’s lifecycle.”

CNH sees the benefits of 3D printing spare parts in the need to quickly fabricate small numbers of parts locally and on-demand. This, in turn, results in better stock management and availability, with parts made in just 24 to 36 hours. 

CNH also highlights the efficiency of the fabrication process. Because parts are made layer-by-layer, only the material that is required to build the part is used. This contrasts with subtractive manufacturing, in which material can be wasted significantly as it is removed or cut away from an initial block. 

The capital goods manufacturer is not the first specialty equipment company to realize the value of 3D printing spare parts. In construction, Caterpillarhas been exploring the use of 3D printing for spare parts for several years. Siemens Mobility, too, has begun 3D printing spare parts for its rail service.