In the world of manufacturing, discovering a crucial component from a key supplier will no longer be available is something no company wants to face.
This phenomenon, known as “part obsolescence,” can lead to significant headaches for manufacturers, anticipating the loss of items critical to continued production. Yet, there’s a way to navigate this complex landscape and extend the life of seemingly obsolete parts via 3D scanning and reverse engineering.
Navigating the World of Obsolescence Management
When manufacturers are confronted with the unavailability of essential parts, they often resort to conventional strategies in obsolescence management (OM). These may involve stockpiling the part through a “bridge buy” before it vanishes from the market or sourcing the item from the second-hand market. However, these methods often come with hefty costs and intense competition, often leading to the risk of overstocking or understocking.
Unlocking the Power of 3D Scanning
3D scanning has emerged as a game-changer in this arena. It’s a non-invasive technique that digitally captures precise measurements of an object’s shape, size, and texture. Through this process, detailed digital 3D CAD models can be generated, enabling the recreation of legacy parts, and eliminating the need for replacement purchases. With superior accuracy compared to traditional measuring tools, like calipers, 3D scanning becomes a reliable safeguard against the potential loss of vital components.
Various types of 3D scanners exist. Each has distinct capabilities tailored for specific applications, and in some instances, a combination of scanner types might be employed to achieve optimal results.
3D Scanning’s Impact in the Real-World
Here are a few real-world scenarios where 3D scanning has been used to address part obsolescence:
Water Purification Systems: An industrial water purification system manufacturer faced the discontinuation of a control box used in their popular systems. Lacking a CAD design file, the manufacturer turned to 3D scanning. With the resulting CAD model, they could seamlessly reproduce the part and avoid costly system overhauls.
Semiconductor Production: A semiconductor manufacturer was hit by suppliers no longer providing replacement parts for aging production equipment. 3D scanning and reverse engineering gave new life to the equipment as the manufacturer could now recreate and reinstall the discontinued parts.
Beverage Production: A soft drink manufacturer needed to redesign an essential tool for their flagship beverage production. Without a CAD file, they sought the aid of 3D scanning. After a meticulous scanning process, a precise CAD file was produced, allowing for the recreation and reinstallation of the tool, ensuring uninterrupted production.
The Role of 3D Scanning in Obsolescence Management
Given its prowess in digitising aging and obsolete components for reverse engineering, 3D scanning should undoubtedly earn a prime spot in manufacturers’ OM strategies. Collaborating with a skilled reverse engineering partner can breathe new life into viable yet “obsolete” parts, effectively extending their lifespan and enhancing performance.
In industries where innovation and adaptability are paramount, 3D scanning can help redefine how manufacturers address the challenges of part obsolescence. With such technology available manufacturers can transform adversity into opportunity and ensure seamless operations in the face of change, and can significantly extend the life and improve the performance of viable parts otherwise tagged as “obsolete.”