3D printing or additive manufacturing is slowly, but surely, making a statement through its applications in the mining industry. Apart from the common reasons (across industries) of cost-effectiveness, streamlined and efficient production processes and the time-saving nature of the technology, 3D printing in mining has had other far-reaching consequences as well.
Overcoming Age-old Challenges with 3D Printing Mining Parts
Most mining projects are set and carried out in remote and often hostile natural surroundings. This makes logistics and supply chains difficult to manage, thereby creating considerable downtime in operations and undesirable amounts of delays. To make it worse, mining companies often incur monetary losses as they wait for reinforcements to arrive for faulty or worn-out equipment or a completely new set of mining tools.
Managing excess inventory, the high costs of materials to create new mining parts and tools, coupled with the cost of warehousing and storage, are some of the other headaches for running a mining operation successfully.
Mining companies are highly dependent on original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for supplying them with precision-engineered parts. 3D printing applications have been especially useful in the construction of specialist components such as 3D printing mining rig.
The image used for illustration purpose. Zeal3Dprinting is not the owner or creator of the image. Image source: (fool.whotrades.com/blog/43687016448)
Many essential mining parts are manufactured through one-off production runs, using conventional manufacturing techniques. This often leads to a monumental wastage of both resources and financial capital. 3D printed parts can save time and money while aiding in on-demand, on-site production.
3D Topographic Maps
The technology has proved itself to be extremely useful in the creation of topographic outlines of mining sites, in which accuracy plays a crucial role. The variable geometric patterns (e.g. tunnels, shafts etc.) inside mines can be captured in 3D print solutions.
The limitations of drawing on paper or 2D printing on paper can be efficiently tackled and overcome with 3D printed models of mining fields. Engineers and mining staff can make use of the data on the topographic and geological features in the mines and adjoining areas.
The image used for illustration purpose. Zeal3Dprinting is not the owner or creator of the image. Image source: (the bridge Japan)
3D Laser Scanning for Replications and Customizations
Laser scanning, along with 3D printing, facilitates the replication of standard spare parts and mining tools, as required. The unique nature of 3D print technology allows for customizations in the design of such spare parts. Customizations can be carried out in designing mining tools to make them suitable for the mining environment.
The biggest advantage of this process is its cost-effectiveness. Customized parts and tools can be produced in small batches. An accessible digital library of 3D models of these tools can be made available on-site, thereby enabling further replications when the need arises.
Summary of Benefits as Mines Adopt 3D Printing
- Cost-effective: Primarily, 3D printing in mining is seen as an extremely cost-effective solution. The cost of 3D printed mining parts has been shown to be as much as 90% less than traditionally manufactured parts.
- Time-saver: Equally significant is the aspect of rapid manufacturing for mining that 3D print technology offers. This is changing the face of repair and maintenance in the mining industry as spare parts or replacements parts for worn out or defective components can be produced on-site, instead of waiting for the original manufacturer to redesign it all together!
- Sustainable and Green: 3D printing mining parts have proved to be extremely beneficial to the environment as the components produced in the process are energy efficient.
- Better Supply Chain Management: The faster turnaround time through 3D printing enables mining companies to manage supply chains better. As spare parts get manufactured in-house or on-site, delivery lead times are shortened.
Why Zeal 3D Printing Services
Zeal 3D printing brings you an efficient team of experts who provide cost-effective services to obtain highly accurate components for mining equipment. Optimize your supply chain management with our remarkably fast turnaround time. Zeal is a frontrunner when it comes to aiding mining operations. We specialize in:
- Advanced use of 3D print technology such as FDM, SLS, SLA, MJM, MJF, PolyJet, DMLS, SLM etc.
- Our promise of quick turnaround time is not just an on-paper one. We deliver on it every single time, no matter where you need us across Australia.
- We have extensive coverage across Australia, including Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania.
- Trust the experienced team of engineers at Zeal to deliver accurate and high-quality products, as per your project requirements.
Mining operations are increasingly adopting 3D print technology to speed up production, save on operational costs, and better manage supply chains.