Scientists from the Kühne Logistics University have developed an optimization model that assesses the costs over the entire supply chain. It has been applied to the real dataset of an automobile manufacture for the study . This comprised around 50,000 spare parts from a period of nine years. The analysis concludes that 3D printing can be an effective economic alternative for many spare parts – especially those that are required less frequently. Instead of being bound by minimum quantities and having to store them, companies can produce just the number they actually require with additive manufacturing. The storage costs fall, at the same time customer service increases as the parts are often available faster. The scientists stress, however, that a minimum stock should be retained to avoid delivery bottlenecks.

Daimler Buses has already set up a program of this sort: at the beginning of December 2019, the company announced that it would be offering spare parts from its own 3D printer from the end of 2020. This includes, for example, covers and handles, which can also be customized.