nyris and Replique Announce their Spare Parts on Demand Service

nyris and Replique offer a solution which reduces administrative and overhead costs by automating the fulfilment service for ordering spare parts. They do this by combining industrial 3D printing and visual search.

On Thursday 30th September 2021, nyris alongside Replique, a business incubator of BASF, announced their “Spare Parts on Demand” service during a joint webinar. The webinar began with an introduction from Dr. Anna Lukasson Herzig, the CEO at nyris.

Anna explained her background in engineering, her studies at the Aachen University of Technology, and her PhD in process automation. Then six years ago, together with her brother Markus, nyris was founded. nyris is a visual search platform which delivers outstanding accuracy, speed, and scalability for spare parts recognition.

Dr. Max Siebert, CEO at Replique, followed Anna's introduction by discussing how he started his career in materials research, and his past experience as a materials chemist at BASF. Max continued:  

"I am part of the BASF incubator and it was here that we founded Replique. Replique is an industrial 3D printing platform, founded to help OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) to simplify their supply chain, and by being able to offer spare parts to everyone, everywhere".  

The goal of Replique is to decentralise and make the production on demand using a 3D printing network. Through the use of Replique, OEMs are able to offer their parts in a digital warehouse where once an order comes in, instead of taking a part from a physical warehouse, designs can instead be sent virtually to a production facility nearby.

To set the stage, Anna started with a quote:

“In industries such as automobile and industrial machinery, companies have sold so many units over the years that their aftermarkets have become four to five times larger than the original equipment businesses.”
- Harvard Business Review on Winning in the Aftermarket.

She went on to describe how during the lifetime of machines, customers spend twice as much for service and maintenance than they do on the original equipment purchase. However, many OEMs only manage to capture a small share of their aftermarket.

When customers are purchasing spare parts, availability is the most critical factor…

This presents a problem for OEMs because keeping all parts in stock and available for fast delivery is costly. Furthermore, when using standard production methods, only a few parts qualify for make-to-order, the rest you have to make-to-stock which increases inventory costs.

More detail on the parts ordering bottleneck were introduced, and the fact that sometimes, remanufacturing a spare part can sometimes take up to a 100 days was stressed. Typically, the parts ordering problem process looks as follows:

1. A technician or customer cannot identify a spare part.

2. They search for the part in a catalogue. They call and email the manufacturer for help.

3. The support team identifies the part but finds out it’s not in stock.

4. They can source the spare part from a distributor or remanufacture the spare part.

5. The spare part is dispatched to the technician or customer.

Anna continued by delivering an overview of the “Spare Parts on Demand” service that nyris and Replique are jointly offering:

1. A technician or customer is looking for a spare part

2. They take a picture of the part, using nyris software, and find it in the digital catalogue or e-commerce store.

3. They find out the spare part is no longer in stock but can be manufactured on demand.

4. The spare part is 3D printed using either metal or plastic through a secure process.

5. The spare part is dispatched to the technician or customer.

Anna continued with a detailed explanation on how nyris’s visual search technology works with its neural network and synthetic data.

There are four stages to building a visual search engine:

1. You provide 3D CAD models of spare parts.

2. nyris render your spare parts using AI-assisted rendering.

3. Neural network training & indexing is performed.

4. Visual Search is then available to your customers.

Max elaborated on how additive manufacturing is the next step in the offering:

1. The technician or customer takes a photo to identify the spare part.

2. The spare part is out of stock but made available as part of a digital inventory.

3. A trusted 3D manufacturing facility near the order location which offers the suitable manufacturing methods for this part are identified.

4. The spare part is 3D printed using either metal or plastic.

5. The spare part is dispatched to the technician or customer.

Typically, manufacturing is either a subjective process where you build something out of a large block of material, or a formative method where you melt materials and cast them using a form. With 3D printing, objects are built layer by layer. There are multiple 3D printing technologies each specialising in certain materials, and you can print from many materials including stainless steel, aluminium and plastics as well.  

Questions + Answers:

How many parts can you print in a day?

Max: It is quite variable, it depends on the materials and the size, but what I can tell you is that in our quickly growing network we have about 450 machines. These are industrial machines, so say you have a mobile phone sized part, we can print several thousands of parts in one day because of the large network. We have 30 locations including South Africa, South America, North America, Europe and Asia, so the most important part is that you are always going to be close to the location where the part is needed.

What happens if the AI doesn’t recognise the spare parts?  

Anna: We always confirm. Since we work as a search engine, we can send lists of possible results back to the users where the most likely result is mentioned first, and the least likely is last. This makes it easier to confirm which item is the correct one, and once it has been confirmed, nyris sends the part information to Replique.

Do you have applications in the automotive industry (i.e., clips, caps, etc…)?  

Anna: We do work for a major supplier of clips and fastenings for the automotive industry, and we learnt they are a market leader, and innovation leader in their field. No one else can make clips that don't break easily, and are very easy to use. Those clips are similar to each other, and during the design process, when a construction engineer designs a new model, they just grab a clip and test a lot of different ones, and when they find one they want to use, they have to identify which clip it is. This is where the problem arises and nyris comes into play. Instead of calling service centres and trying to find what clip it is, they can simply take a photo using nyris software and it will recognise which clip it is, and show which clip needs to be used in the new model.

What about combined materials (such as co-extrusion)?

Max: It is still at the very early stages of exploration for making two materials at the same time. Co-extrusion is, at the moment, possible for certain methods, such as filament position routing where you can melt two materials together. For certain combinations it works, but if needed, you can also deconstruct the parts and make the two separate material parts and combine them afterwards. This is a frequently offered method, and our printing partners can assemble after manufacturing the parts as well. Another typical step includes adding a sealing (often softer materials like silicon), which can be added manually. But for now, two materials at the same time is not a very broadly applicable method, but things are changing very quickly.

How sustainable is this process?  

Anna: Great question, first of all, it is not obvious that AI can be sustainable because all AI is a computer eating monster. But sustainability is very important to us, and so we questioned how we can manage to be sustainable? We do so using hosting providers (for computer power) that have climate positive data centres.

Max: For 3D printing, we investigated this topic in collaboration with the University of Mannheim. In general, there are many aspects of sustainability that can be tackled using 3D printing. If you produce a part, in itself, this is not very sustainable, but the big difference comes from shortening the transportation distances and avoiding over-production. These help us to achieve sustainability goals. The next question becomes; can we use sustainable materials, and the answer to this question is yes! For example, recycled PET can be used. On commercial sustainability, it can be commercially sustainable because sometimes we can reduce the price of parts, especially of medium order quantity, because these can get quite expensive for some OEMs.

What are the limits to both of your technologies?

Anna: We are dependent on the parts or objects having enough optical features that can help identify and prove that there is only one option that it could be. To summarise, the more optical features available, the better our system will work.

Max: Polymer parts that are larger than 1.5m require very special printers, which can be offered, but generally, polymer parts are not going to be greater than this size. For metal parts, the dimensions possible are slightly smaller with a maximum dimension of 800x400mm. So far, this has been sufficient, and you can obviously add some tricks to cut a part into two pieces and then put them together in the end. However, until now this has not been a problem, but it is a limitation nonetheless.

How secure is the process?  

Anna: Data privacy is part of our product design process. We also host all of the data in Europe and we really care about data minimisation. Every time we deal with user data, for example when someone wants to take a picture of their part with their phone, we delete all the information we don’t need immediately from their device. Geolocations, for example, are always on photos that are taken, so we delete the geolocation already from the person's phone so that when the image gets to our servers, that information is not attached to the image. This is just one example of how we protect the data throughout the process.

Max: Fortunately, our process does not have to go through the challenges of dealing with personal data. At Replique, we do not host CAD data. We do an upload and transform data into machine readable files for the printers, and subsequently, the files get deleted again to minimise data and minimise the possibility of CAD files being accessed at some point in time in the future. We use a very secure AWS network so the whole platform is encrypted, and every file sent out via our platform to the different printers are encrypted to ensure that parameters, and number of printouts are secured. At the moment, this is one of the highest protection measures you can have for this kind of manufacturing process, especially compared to current processes where you simply send or upload CAD files via email.  


We are offering you the chance to experience nyris + Replique's spare part service.

Send us three CAD files and we will grant you access to a portal where you can order a printed part free of charge. Visit: get.nyris.io

You can watch the whole webinar here:

nyris and Replique Announce their Spare Parts on Demand Service
Rebecca Bamber

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