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3D Printing technology and its impact on the Mining Industry

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by Pakshaal S.Shah
29 June 2015

Operational delay is a major problem for the mining companies. One of the key reasons for the operational delay is increase in lead time due to unavailibility of spare parts used in mining equipment such as dozer, dumper, trucks, wheel loaders, etc.�Mining companies have been looking to cut costs especially during the gloom time. They resort to leasing of equipment, services, etc. Use of substitute technology to reduce cost of mining is also being looked as an option. 3D printing is one such option and it is set to revolutionise the spare part manufacturing industry for the mining companies. The 3D printing will bring in not only cost savings but also time savings for the mining companies. 3D printing is also being resorted by spare part and equipment manufacturing companies to reduce their manufacturing lead time and become preferred suppliers for the mining companies.�However, Environmental degradation is one of the ill effects of 3D printers which will affect the health of employees in the mine and �environment around. Introduction Mining companies are mostly located in remote locations and generally suppliers are located very far them. In some cases the distance can be as high as 500-750 Km. Difference in terrain require different modes of transport which adds further to the lead time.�Mining companies incur loss due to long lead time of spare parts from manufacturing unit to the mines. Limited stock capacity at the mine locations do little to offset the losses by increased lead time of the spare parts. Lead time in manufacturing can be reduced by upto 50-70% if production of spare parts is done onsite therby streamlining the supply chain. Apart from time savings, mining companies can save on costs which depend on type of spare part. Other intangible benefit of 3D printing is faster design revision of the spare parts, equipment, etc.   Author: Pakshaal S.Shah

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