A 3D printer can be used at locations that are hard to reach, like for example in space. The printer can be used to make tools and spare parts. Or to print new parts for testing purposes. The main advantages are that there is no lead-time and there are no high shipping costs. Beneath you can find some examples to clarify.
3D Printers in Space
Imagine a 3D printer in the International Space Station. If a part fails over there, it can easily be printed and replaced. This is cheaper than ship up multiple spare parts, the extra weight will result in an extra fuel cost. With the 3D printer they won’t have an overstock on parts. With a stock on parts you will have the risk that certain parts will not fail. Still, you will have the weight of these parts. Having only a 3D printer on board will be a solution to this problem. On August 2014 NASA will do some research on this.
Other examples I’m thinking of:
- Polar Research Station
- Large ships
- Remote military outpost