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PhD Defence Nils Knofius

additive manufacturing in after-sales service supply chains

Nils Knofius is a PhD student in the Department Industrial Engineering and Business Information Systems (IEBIS). His supervisor is prof.dr. W.H.M. Zijm from the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences (BMS). 

Additive Manufacturing (AM, also known as 3D printing) is developing into a powerful complement to more conventional manufacturing (CM) methods. In comparison to CM methods such as milling, drilling, casting and forging, AM technologies build complete parts by adding materials layer upon layer without using any dedicated tooling. 

The resulting ability to produce complex structures without lengthy and expensive setup procedures could turn out particularly valuable for the low-volume spare parts business. Short AM lead times are likely to significantly improve the balance between spare parts inventory investment and system downtime. Generic AM processes could relax the dependence on suppliers and therefore decrease risks and costs associated with supply disruptions. Ultimately, AM could even enable the implementation of a decentralized production concept that holds the promise of increased supply chain responsiveness at low costs.

However, it is necessary to deconstruct these concepts and to separate the hype from reality to leverage the potentials of AM technology in after-sales service supply chains. In this dissertation, we aim to contribute to this undertaking by offering a scientific perspective on how and to what extent after-sales service supply chains can benefit from AM technology. To that end, we develop and apply techniques from the field of Operations Research to learn from the various case studies that were conducted at different organizations throughout this research.