Revolutionizing the Automotive Spare Parts Industry with Additive Manufacturing
2022-11-15 Stefan Bamberg
In the past decade, a bright spotlight has been focused on the promise and practical use of 3D printing for general manufacturing operations. The potential advantages are numerous: short run part production and rapid prototyping, easy scale-up for high volume manufacturing, reduction in operation costs, faster time to market, reduced waste, and less storage requirements. Additionally, complex supply chains can be eliminated, the carbon footprint of the entire manufacturing process reduced, and products made on demand without difficult or costly tooling and engineering.
While additive manufacturing has opened the door for new business models and faster time to market, the innovative technology has yet to be wholly embraced by the manufacturing community. In some cases, companies are unable to make the leap because printing in 3D might not fit their specific product or material requirements, or the business model simply does not work in their given market.
However, there are more and more shining examples where additive manufacturing is fulfilling its promises. One such company who has successfully made this digital transformation to 3D printing is Daimler Buses, a leader in the global transportation market. In cooperation with Wibu-Systems and its encryption and licensing technology and the 3D printers of Farsoon Technologies, Daimler Buses is revolutionizing its spare parts business with its OMNIplus digital warehouse. The 3D printing licensing shop provides a 24/7 supply of 3D printable spare parts for their customers made within their own company to ensure fast and easy access to the replacement components necessary to keep the buses and touring coaches in service.
The novel business model is efficient and straightforward. Bus/touring coach companies first complete a one-off registration process at the OMNIplus 3D Printing License e-shop with their 3D printers. At the shop, customers are only shown the parts that are available and compatible with their own printer. The launch was initially implemented together with industrial 3D printer manufacturer Farsoon Technologies. Next, customers purchase an encrypted 3D printing license for the component they currently require in the desired quantity and can print it out within their own enterprise. After having successfully printed the component part, the respective license expires without the data being saved. Alternatively, customers can let their nearest OMNIplus service partner aware of their requirements who can then acquire the corresponding license and manage the printing. Wibu-Systems CodeMeter licensing and encryption technology is used to ensure that the data is protected throughout the process and that the ordered quantity is adhered to. The files are sold as encrypted downloads, and the buyer receives a license to use for pre-printing and an actual printing license that allows as many copies to be printed as the buyer has paid for.
Both encrypted and unencrypted objects can be included in one job to reduce printing costs. The entire commercial process in the background is managed by CodeMeter License Central’s integration with the SAP system of Daimler Buses. This means that not only are the object files protected, but the entire order processing can be fully automated. The CodeMeter solution represents the essential technological basis for both encrypting the critical data and for creating and delivering the necessary licenses securely. Farsoon Technologies has integrated the technology into its software products to create a fully secure process chain from the shop to the printer and advanced a pioneering role in the market for 3D printing service on the strength of the solution.
CodeMeter represents a crucial link in the process chain, taking over protection and license management for all components involved. The CodeMeter encryption technology for the 3D designs and print jobs is available in the form of libraries for many target platforms and developer languages that the makers of preprocessing and 3D printing software can use to integrate IP protection in 3D printing with little effort. The cryptographic keys necessary for the process can be stored, depending on the operating conditions and the desired level of protection, on hardware dongles and software or cloud containers.
CodeMeter License Central makes it easy to prepare and distribute the preprocessing and printing licenses, with webservice interfaces again available for easier integration in existing e-commerce or CRM landscapes. Ideally, the licenses are delivered by simple online activation, but file transfer solutions are available for target systems or 3D printers without direct online connectivity.
After studying computer science at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, he worked in traffic simulation R&D before switching over to IT project management and key account management for large ICT companies. Since 2012, he is active in the Key Account Division of our Wibu-Systems sales force.